The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed legislation that will save aircraft owners millions of dollars on maintenance and repairs while keeping aviation jobs in the state.
The legislation, which passed 97-0, creates a state sales tax exemption for all parts and labor used in aircraft maintenance. The bill was previously approved by the State Senate and now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.
Wisconsin is home to a vibrant aviation community. Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., has a facility in Appleton and a Cessna Citation jet service center is located in Milwaukee. Others who spoke on behalf of the legislation include Wisconsin Aviation, a flight school, charter operator and maintenance shop with facilities in Watertown, Juneau and Madison, NewView Technologies, an aircraft maintenance shop and Abe Weber, the manager of Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton. Weber represented the Wisconsin Airport Management Association.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds testified in November 2013 before the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee to explain the impact the tax break would have on the state’s pilots and aviation businesses, and to urge support for the tax relief proposal. Budds met individually and corresponded with key legislative leaders to build support for the bill.
The Wisconsin vote comes on the heels of a similar measure in New Mexico. That bill exempts aircraft parts and labor from the state’s gross receipts tax. Gov. Susanna Martinez signed it into law March 6, saying that it will level the playing field for New Mexico’s aviation industry.
New Mexico’s new law exempts aircraft parts and labor from a 5.125% gross receipts sales tax.
In the past, aircraft owners have simply flown to neighboring states with similar tax exemptions, including Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, for maintenance.
That’s a trend that AOPA officials say they have witnessed in a number of states, and the association has made passage of maintenance and fuel tax-savings measures a priority for local pilots. In 2013 Indiana passed a similar measure, dropping fuel and maintenance taxes, which boosted aviation-hiring. Florida and Maine have also adopted maintenance tax exemptions.