July 19, 2011
By Sarah Brown
The prospect of general aviation user fees has reared its head again, this time in debt-reduction negotiations. GA groups are urging members of the House and Senate to reject this “resoundingly discredited approach to raising revenues.”
Over the past five years Congress has overwhelmingly rejected the introduction of new user fees, which would add costs for GA operators and a new layer of federal bureaucracy, the groups wrote. As lawmakers look for sources of revenue to chip away at the federal deficit, AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Helicopter Association International, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association emphasized that the approach of contributing to the federal government through fuel taxes works – and user fees don’t.
No industry enjoys paying taxes, the groups wrote, but the current system of fuel taxes is far preferable to the system of user fees that has “absolutely devastated general aviation in other parts of the world.” If the United States were to adopt foreign-style user fees, “they would only serve to create a new federal collection bureaucracy of billing agents, auditors and collection officials to harass small businesses and others.”
By contrast the fuel tax, set by Congress, does not saddle operators with new and onerous administrative burdens and is not subject to annual increases set by the federal bureaucracy, the groups added.
“We urge you not to create an expensive new federal collection bureaucracy that will need to be funded on the backs of general aviation operators in the name of deficit reduction,” they wrote. “It is a nonsensical and self-defeating approach.”