Airline lobby blasts union tax analysis

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The group that lobbies for airlines in Washington is disputing a report from a labor union that showed the industry receives about $1 billion per year in tax breaks from state and local governments. 

The analysis, which was conducted by the UNITE HERE International Union, is based on faulty assumptions, Washington, D.C.-based Airlines For America (A4A) said Thursday in a blog post on its website. 

“With summer coming to an end and students all across the country heading back into the classroom we thought we’d give the good people at UNITE HERE a refresher in checking their work,” the airline group wrote. 

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“They recently released a ‘report’ mischaracterizing the tax burden of airlines but, unfortunately, their claims just don’t add up,” the A4A blog continued. “The report cites ... a lack of state-level retail sales taxes on jet fuel as a ‘tax break,’ but it is common knowledge that states are not supposed to impose retail sales taxes on airline fuel, because it isn’t a retail consumer good, but a commodity used to produce a retail consumer good.” 

The union study found that airlines received tax breaks on 12 billion gallons of fuel in 2013.

UNITE HERE’s airline tax policy group, 12Billion.org, said the study showed that U.S. carriers at not as overtaxed as they frequently argue to members of Congress. 

The airline lobby painted a starkly different picture of the tax picture for U.S. carriers on Thursday. 

“The [study] ignores the fact that airlines, their customers and employees already pay a staggering $52 million per day in federal taxes, which is over and above state and local jet fuel, property, sales, income and employment taxes,” A4A wrote in its blog post.  “All told, commercial aviation and its customers pay more than $19 billion in taxes per year combined.” 

The airline group concluded that it questions “why any organization claiming to support labor would advocate for an industry, whose financial well-being directly impacts its employees, to pay higher taxes?  

“Why would an organization argue against policies that help to create and support jobs they claim to represent,” the A4A wrote.  

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