Plane Tax Threatens Small Biz
July 30, 2009
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  • By Larry Jennings


    Small planes are a familiar fixture on the Iowa skyline. They bank gracefully in the sky, connecting small businesses to towns and customers all over the state.

    Small businesses are the lifeblood of the communities of Iowa. They provide our citizens with something beyond what can be bought in a store: pride.

    These owners not only serve their area, they are a part of it, and for generations these businesses have provided their communities with jobs and economic growth.

    Iowa has 120 public-use airports and many more private strips connecting Iowa. As these businesses serve Iowa, many have found that small planes are an essential tool in responding to the ever-changing world of small business.

    Owners use the skies to connect quickly and efficiently with other businesses, forming partnerships and links between various towns and regions both within our borders and beyond.

    As a farmer, I understand the benefits of a small private aircraft. I use my plane to attend distant meetings, check the crops from the air and check for stray cows. Additionally, in my appraisal business, I use the plane to check out both the subject farm and the comparables.

    Only a bird’s-eye view can give an overall picture of problems that would take hours from the ground. The plane saves time and adds quality to the reports.

    Unfortunately, a new (federal) tax plan called for would raise taxes on small planes, which means that small business owners and individuals would have to choose between opening their wallets wider to protect their livelihood or curtailing their business – doing immense harm to Iowa’s economy. This proposal – soon to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee – would threaten local businesses by doubling fuel taxes for small planes and adding a new $25 ”user fee” tax per flight, all while giving a tax break to the airline industry to the tune of $500 million. Small business owners would see their costs rise while airlines pocket extra money.

    The fact is that many of the planes that would be affected by this proposal belong to small businesses and individuals that use them as a tool to sustain their company and build their community. Although user fee advocates claim we need this new tax system to help pay for improvements to our air traffic control system, changes could be made to the current system that would provide the same revenue without the inevitable pitfalls of completely changing the funding system.

    The reality is that user fees would end up giving the airline industry a huge tax break while raising taxes primarily on small businesses.

    With small businesses and Iowa farmers so interconnected, the loss of the planes would have a massive effect on other businesses as well as the customers who are served.

    User fees are the worst kind of government policy – they reward large corporations while raising taxes for hard-working American small business owners. We need to stick with a tax code that protects Iowa small businesses and keeps our skies safe.

    Larry Jennings is the owner of the Winfield-based Agricultural Management Inc. He operates a family farm near Winfield, assists other farmers with appraisals and management and is is a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America. E-mail:

    Date: 2007-06-21