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Florida's Aviation Fuel Tax In House's Sights

Michael Miley
Flickr Creative Commons

Florida is home to many world-famous flight schools, but the taxes on aviation fuel can further elevate the already sky-high education costs. Florida lawmakers see those taxes as unnecessary ballast.

Credit Michael Miley / Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons

Piloting is a huge deal in Florida. According to Enterprise Florida, the sunshine state leads the rest of the nation in pilot training.

But according to the December issue of Florida Trend magazine, aviation school fees are just as massive as the industry that pilots come here to train for. Students pay for the standards like tuition and living arrangements- but also instructor fees, aviator maintenance, and even the fuel, which is usually bought from a distributor- taxes included.

Rep. Matthew Gaetz (R- Fort Walton Beach) is including aviation fuel in his new tax cut plan.

The Florida House of Representatives’ “No Tax Is Safe” plan hopes to cut a total of $690 million dollars in taxes in 2015, which Gaetz is very excited about.

“I can’t believe—that’s a million bucks that we’re gonna be able to put back into the aviation and avionics programs in our state,” said Gaetz. “That’s remarkable.”

But while Gaetz and company are soaring over the clouds, Kurt Wenner, Vice President of Research at Florida Taxwatch, doesn’t think the aviation tax cut is anything to get our propellers spinning over.

“In the world of tax cuts, $200,000, uh, relative, is not a lot of money,” Wenner says. He doesn’t think this seems as big a deal as other, more prominent items in the plan.

“For example, cutting the communications services tax, cutting the tax on commercial rents, making the current tax exemption for manufacturing equipment permanent… those are three things we think WOULD have a big impact in Florida, but they’re such large ticket items that this certainly would not impact those,” Wenner says. “You know, you could not trade that for a bigger reduction in those other taxes.”

But while the aviation fuel tax may not seem like much of a blip on the greater tax cut radar, Wenner emphasizes if it benefits anyone, it’ll probably be aviation students.

“We’ll have to see how they handle those savings, and what kind of impact it has on students’ tuition. I mean, it’s certainly too early to tell,” Wenner says. “But if they pass all of the savings to the students, that could be a considerable savings.”

Lawmakers are still trying to decide what the final tax cut package—and amount—will be.

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Matthew Seeger began his work in radio in 2012, during an internship he took with WUSF in Tampa. He went on to volunteer at 89.7 FM “The Voice” for several years as a news anchor and production assistant. He began working with the WFSU news team in January of 2015. In addition to reporting the news, Matt is a voice actor, having recorded and produced several creative audio pieces, as well as his own series for V89’s Vox Populi program called “Tales from Hell Creek,”-- a series of slice-of-life vignettes about dinosaurs.
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