For many years, non-residents of Florida were staying away from the Sunshine State during the first six months of ownership of their aircraft because of the sometimes misunderstood and confusing use tax statute and the threat of receiving a use tax bill upon returning home. That will soon change. With the governor’s signature, a new tax exemption will begin July 1.
Under current law, out-of-state aircraft owners who visit Florida within six months of purchasing their aircraft are subject to a use tax of up to 6% of the total value of the aircraft. Under the new law, newly-purchased aircraft by residents living in other states will now be able to fly to Florida and remain for up to 21 days during the first six months of ownership without fear of the use tax. Aircraft also may remain in Florida for flight training, repairs, alterations, refitting or modifications with no time constraints during the first six months. This is a win for out-of-state aircraft owners and for Florida’s economy, according to officials with the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), which lobbied aggressively for the tax exemption.
Senator Mike Fasano (R-11) and Representative Ralph Poppell (R-29) sponsored the exemption bill this year, and “with their diligence and cooperation our efforts were successful,” said Paula Raeburn, FATA executive director.
“This is certainly a positive measure for the general aviation industry and economy as a whole in Florida, with so many workers employed in this field,” said Fasano. “We look forward to welcoming out-of-state aircraft owners back into the state to utilize our world-class aviation businesses and facilities – and to enjoy all that Florida has to offer.”
FATA lobbyist Eric Prutsman was joined in Tallahassee by Mark Kimberling of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association during the last week of committee meetings to navigate the Senate halls to work with leaders to ensure passage in both the House and Senate.
There have been many people who have given their time and effort to the cause, Raeburn noted. “Our members pooled their resources to reach out to their representatives and senators to explain the importance of passing the House and Senate Bills,” she said. “They are the unsung heroes who do the letter writing and make the phone calls that made the difference on this issue. Our presence in Tallahassee is important, but when the legislators hear from their constituents they know the voters are watching them in the Capital. ”
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the South Florida Business Aviation Association (SFBAA) also joined the campaign and provided excellent resources to get the job done, Raeburn added.
“This measure really required a lot of elbow grease with three scheduled committee stops in each chamber and a legislature grappling with a staggering budget shortfall,” said the AOPA’s Kimberling. “Yet, in the end, we had an incredibly strong partnership with the Florida Air Trades Association and two terrific bill sponsors in Senator Mike Fasano and Representative Ralph Poppell, and together we prevailed. Florida will soon be open for all visiting aircraft owners once again – without fear of undue taxation.”