"Senate Bill 1242…would expand the current sales tax exemption for repair and maintenance of aircraft over 15,000 pounds by lowering the threshold for application of the exemption to 2,000 pounds. Aircraft statewide would have repair and maintenance performed tax-free."
The 2011 legislature has started this year at full throttle. The House and Senate are pursuing Medicaid reform, education personnel reform, pension reform, governmental reorganization, and massive budget cuts—all at breakneck speed. Ask any of the veteran legislators or lobbyists around the capitol, and they will tell you this is the most intense session they’ve ever seen. The $3.75 billion budget deficit is driving much of the anxiety, with school districts and hospitals that depend upon state and federal dollars expecting to have to lay off tens of thousands of employees statewide.
More than 2,000 bills have been filed for the 2011 session. One of those bills, Senate Bill 1242 by Sen. Mike Bennett, would expand the current sales tax exemption for repair and maintenance of aircraft over 15,000 pounds by lowering the threshold for application of the exemption to 2,000 pounds. Aircraft statewide would have repair and maintenance performed tax-free. A number of states in the Southeast, most notably Georgia, already have broad sales tax exemptions that have provided a competitive advantage to shops providing aircraft repairs in those states. And just like we did with the use tax message last year, we are meeting with legislators to explain the need to make the change so that aircraft owners will make Florida a repair and maintenance destination. The expansion of the tax exemption does have a cost associated with it, but we are confident that the increased volume of repairs will generate an economic benefit that offsets the loss of revenue. The bill is scheduled to go before the Revenue Estimating Conference, a panel of economic experts from the legislature, the Governor’s office, and various state agencies, which will deliberate on the potential positive or negative impact of the bill.
We’ll be asking our members to contact their local House and Senate members in the coming days. An e-mail or phone call from a constituent back home can make the difference on many issues, and this sales tax exemption is no exception. Although tax exemptions are not high on the priority list with the historic budget deficit the Florida legislature is facing, we’re banking on the momentum we generated last year with the use tax victory. House Speaker Dean Cannon, a pilot and aircraft owner, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos have both been very helpful in the past with FATA legislative initiatives, and we know they will assist as the aircraft repair and maintenance provision moves through the process. We’ll also report back periodically throughout the legislative session to let our members know the latest updates. Thank you in advance for assisting our legislative efforts to enhance general aviation in Florida!