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Thursday, 20 May, 2021

NATA and FABA Defend Aviation Businesses Against Burdensome Taxes

Washington, DC, May 20, 2021 – The National Air Transportation Association (NATA), along with the Florida Aviation Business Association (FABA), filed a friend of the court brief in Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal asking for reversal of a lower court ruling allowing the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser to impose ad valorem property taxes on Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) and other entities, which provide critical general aviation support services in Florida and around the country under direct contracts with local municipalities.

The brief explains that the Florida legislature specifically exempted these essential service providers from taxation due to the fact that “they are statutorily deemed to provide a ‘governmental, municipal, or public purpose or function.’ [Therefore,] the Circuit Court’s ruling is contrary to the plain language of the statute.”

The amicus brief also outlines the potential near and far-reaching effects of allowing the ruling to stand, including the imposition of unintended and unreasonable financial burdens upon general aviation economic development and activity, as well as the creation of downstream negative economic consequences in all markets served by general aviation. 

“The unintended tax burden on Hillsborough County FBOs would render them less competitive with FBOs in neighboring counties, and aviation consumers would feel the effect as service prices would be impacted. These inadvertent consequences would create a ripple effect throughout the entire general aviation sector, as well as other industries throughout all 50 states,” stated NATA President and CEO Timothy Obitts.

As a result of the ruling, the tax would impair the Aviation Authority’s ability to provide essential government services in the most efficient and economic manner possible. The brief notes, “To the extent that existing FBOs are economically burdened by the tax and therefore less likely to enter into leases with the County to provide FBO services, the County itself is still responsible for providing these services.”

FABA President Brad Nojaim stated, “The ruling is contrary to the plain language of the statute and allowing the ruling to stand would impose an unintended and unreasonable financial burden upon FBOs, who are the primary service providers to general aviation aircraft operators.” FABA Board Member and General Counsel Richard L. Richards, Esq. added, “The Florida legislature has expressly exempted these service providers from taxation because they are statutorily deemed to provide a governmental, municipal, or public purpose or function.”

“NATA’s mission includes supporting our members in instances where public policy decisions in one locality risk significant and overarching adverse impacts to general activities across the country,” added Obitts. “Inconsistent application of tax rules discourages economic development in our industry, imposes competition hurdles, and deters marketplace innovation and efficiency. In this case, the interpretation of the statute establishing the tax exemption should be discussed and the clear language of the statute should prevail.”

NATA advocates for and promotes economic policy, including tax policy, that enhances and sustains economic growth and competitive conditions in the general aviation industry. FABA is recognized as the leading information resource, principal promoter, and the lead advocate of business aviation and general aviation and in the State of Florida.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or schambers@nata.aero

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for 80 years. Representing nearly 3,700 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.