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Rhode Island – Aircraft exemption

Posted by salestax on March 19, 2008

OK – when I see stuff like this, it makes me angry.  Rhode Island is trying to get rid of a sales tax exemption for aircraft.  I’m sorry, but if you can afford to purchase an aircraft, you can afford to pay the 7% sales tax on that aircraft.  Especially, if it is a private owned aircraft.  This article doesn’t give many details, but why would you make the general public pay sales tax on their automobiles, that they need to get to work, but not make the millionaire pay sales tax on the purchase of his/her plane? 

I think the should repeal the exemption and maybe write a new exemption for aircraft used in the public transportation/utility sector.  That way the airlines and shipping companies that house planes in RI wouldn’t have to pay sales tax on the planes that transport the general public, but the private jets that businesses or individuals own would pay it. 

Who says sales tax is not regressive?!


5 Responses to “Rhode Island – Aircraft exemption”

  1. love of flying said

    You obviously don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. The sales tax debate is a legitimate one and I’m not going to take sides on that issue. What I will take issue with, is the ignorance and venom regarding aircraft. All I can do is offer you the facts of my experience and suggest this is a more common story than you might suspect.

    Millionaire? Hardly. I make less than $50,000 per year for which i work very hard and very long hours. I drive a 16 year old car which i bought used 8 years ago and rent a modest apartment 30 miles outside a medium-sized-market city. Hate me if you will, but please do so with the facts.

    I happen to absolutely LOVE flying so i saved money for years and together with a co-owner bought a 49 year old airplane for which my portion was less than $30,000. Expensive for a car, but not unheard-of.

    Taxes are a sensitive issue for everyone, but I would suggest the enemies at which we should focus our anger are the governments as they continuously extort more money from all of us instead of attacking each other.

    lover of flight

  2. salestax said

    Dear lover of flight,

    Good for you for working to get what you want, but please, regardless of who you are or how you paid for it, or how much it cost, owning an airplane is a luxury. It’s just as if I chose to drive a new BMW or pay $200.00 for a concert ticket. It’s choice you get to make – not one you have to make out of necessity – just like people who boat, ski, golf or have other expensive hobbies: we think it’s fair that they pay sales tax on their boats equipment and golf carts, right – regardless of price? My primary point was not to bash the people who have these hobbies (I apologize if it sounded that way), like flying, but to point out that the government of RI should look into exemptions on things that people really, really need to make a living or survive – not try to give tax breaks to those who buy things because they simply enjoy it.

    Additionally, this is a sales tax blog, and to state that I have no idea what I’m talking about is a bit crass. How do you know that I, too, don’t own an aircraft, or a boat, etc.? I feel if I’m lucky enough to be able to afford these things, then I should figure that I should afford to pay the sales tax on it as well. The $2100 on your 30K aircraft (in Rhode Island) could’ve meant a great deal to a large population of minimum-wage workers trying to feed, clothe and educate their children. Instead those dollars are lost on people who choose and can afford the luxury of such items.

  3. repentant said

    Fair enough. I did fail my own point and i shouldn’t have said that. Please accept my apology. I was just trying to suggest that not everything that floats is a yacht or everything that flies is a Concorde.

    You responded with a kind and thoughtful response so i’ll try to do the same and try to get on topic. I’m fine with whatever decision RI takes. Certainly, the tax rules should be consistent and *if* there are to be exemptions, i would agree with you that they should be on more necessary things. Targeting more essential items for sales tax breaks would certainly be a better use of the tax system than the punitive way it is used now to target any number legal products someone doesn’t like. Personally i disagree with exemptions in general beyond the most basic requirements like food. Anything that complicates what is and isn’t taxable leads to confusion and bureaucracy which can’t be a good thing.

    On the other side, it’s a much weaker argument/position, but IMHO, the federal, state, and local governments extort way more than enough money from all of us so anything that lets anyone keep more of what they work so hard to earn may not be such a bad thing.


  4. salestax said

    Dear Repentant,

    Apology accepted. I, too, would love to see more money in my pocket to reflect my hard work. But since we have to pay to play, then I’m glad to make a fair living and only hope that my tax dollars go to less fortunate people for things they really need.

    ’til next time..


    Rhode Island – Aircraft exemption « The Sales Tax Connection

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