Joining Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity, and others, the Competitive Enterprise Institute signed a letter [PDF] sent to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to resist attempts to increase taxes on air transportation. Congress is currently considering enacting a new takeoff and landing tax for all general aviation aircraft, as well as raising the current commercial airline ticket tax. While there is a strong argument to be made that the current revenue mechanisms that fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — specifically, those that direct the flow into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund — are woefully inadequate, the letter points out:
The current tax and fee structure of the general and commercial aviation industry should be addressed holistically, as part of a systemic reform effort. It should not serve as a politically expedient “revenue-raiser.”
CEI is in favor of major reforms to civil aviation. A few reforms that should be taken immediately are: (1) privatize, or at the very least spin-off, the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization; (2) allow for more airport privatizations; (3) replace existing excise taxes and other fees (such as the “September 11 Security Fee”) with a simple, transparent user-based fee system; and, (4) prohibit general-revenue funding of FAA. As we note, there are indeed problems with the current air transport system in the United States, but virtually all of them are the result of federal government mismanagement. It is time to finally get serious about solutions: let’s get the incentives right! But we must first prevent the FAA from enlarging its already bloated, ineffectual bureaucracy.