No airplane tax — for now

Unalaska Airport

The Aviation Advisory Board has pursuaded the Walker Administration to hold off on the proposed airplane tax and registration program. At least this year, airplane owners will not have to register with the state (they are already registered with the federal government) and pay $150.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently proposed an Aircraft Registration Program to track aircraft at certain airports on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration. It created a bit of an uproar in the aviation community.

The program was voluntary and the tax was optional, as there was never any enforcement or collection mechanism. Aircraft owners could register their planes as associated with one airport, but be primarily using a different one. And hundreds of air strips in Alaska are simply unattended gravel strips, not being maintained with federal dollars,

If all airplane owners participated, it would bring $2 million into the State treasury. The cost of running the program would have been a $50,000 piece of registration software and unknown personnel costs.

The Aviation Advisory Board discussed the proposal with DOT and the FAA at its meeting in Juneau this week and brought up a number of concerns that the public had expressed during the public comment period.

An analysis of the aircraft registration needs of FAA revealed that only a small number of planes fit the requirements that FAA has for knowing which airports are being most heavily used, which is something that guides funding decisions.

Ultimately, the State backed off and said it would go back to the drawing board to come up with a registration system that meets the needs of FAA to understand where best to put tax dollars for airports, and yet does not collect more information from the public than is absolutely necessary.

The Aviation Advisory Board will continue to meet with DOT to discuss what information is absolutely needed and how the registration system would provide tangible benefits to the private plane owners.


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