As Democrats demand more revenue to reduce the federal deficit and Republicans adamantly refuse any notion of new taxes, officials in the Obama administration have been floating the notion of aviation user fees, Bolen said.
"Somehow, beginning to emerge from this standoff is the idea that user fees somehow would work as a revenue raiser without being a tax increase," Bolen warned.
Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), told his members much the same, saying the administration had "elected to put back on the table a user fee that would be attached to flight plans or to aircraft operations. Some say it's $25, some say it's $100, some say it only applies to jets," he said in a video statement posted on AOPA Live. Both leaders warned of the consequences to their members, should the user fee idea gain traction in Congress.
"A tax by any other name is still a tax," Bolen stated. "A user fee is not just a tax. It's the worst possible form of tax. So getting the user fee defeated… and preventing the creation of a new collection bureaucracy, which will undoubtedly have a voracious appetite, is really a top priority."
Another issue in focus as part of the deficit and debt-ceiling negotiations between the White House and congress has been President Obama's call for adjustments to the depreciation schedules for business aircraft.
The president's position represents a reversal in his policy view on aircraft depreciation. In 2009, he signed an economic stimulus package that allowed the purchasers of new business aircraft and major avionics to deduct 100-percent of the purchase price in a single year through 2011. The deduction would fall to 50-percent in 2012 and would expire January 1, 2013.
But after vilifying business aviation repeatedly during a televised news conference last month, Obama now wants to lengthen depreciation schedules. Bolen has repeatedly warned that an early end to accelerated depreciation for aviation assets would cause great harm to the industry, only now beginning to recover from a harsh economic downturn.
BARR Deadline Looms
In the meantime, attorneys for NBAA and AOPA continue their fight against the government's plan to dismantle the BARR program. That program allows aircraft operators to request that the FAA not send specific flight data to companies that then distribute it to the public over the Internet. NBAA and AOPA have filed a federal court appeal to prevent the BARR program from being dismantled. Without a favorable ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Department of Transportation will eliminate much of the BARR program on August 2.
An Urgent Call to Action
With so many threats to the business aviation community, Bolen has repeatedly issue an urgent appeal for NBAA Members to mobilize and make their voices heard.
"People have to understand their representatives need to know their views," Bolen said, urging Members to seek out their representatives in the House and Senate.
NBAA offers an easy-to-use portal for Members to communicate with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, called the Contact Congress resource. Members can find prepared letters urging senators and representatives to oppose user fees and renounce the president's negative remarks about business aviation and support the BARR program.