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Senate bill clarifies tax law for private jet companies

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The latest version of the Senate Republican tax reform bill includes a break for companies that manage private jets.

A measure in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower taxes on some of the payments made by owners of private aircraft to management companies that help maintain, store and staff those planes for owners.

The language would exempt owners or leasers of private aircraft from paying taxes on certain costs related to the upkeep and maintenance of the jets, according to a description from the Joint Committee on Taxation.

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“Applicable services include support activities related to the aircraft itself, such as its storage, maintenance, and fueling, and those related to its operation, such as the hiring and training of pilots and crew, as well as administrative services such as scheduling, flight planning, weather forecasting, obtaining insurance, and establishing and complying with safety standards,” it says.

The bill ensures that private jets under management companies that handle storage and upkeep do not pay the same ticketing taxes as commercial airline flights, aviation tax attorney Troy Rolf told The Wall Street Journal. 

“This provision in no way cuts taxes for private jet owners,” said Jennifer Donahue, a spokeswoman for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who sponsored Senate legislation on the matter. 

NetJets Inc., an Ohio-based private jet company that is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has been lobbying on the issue for years.

The measure is attracting attention following recent controversies involving Cabinet officials’ use of private jets.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned in September after it was discovered he spent more than $1 million on private and military flights at taxpayer expense.

A recent probe by the inspector general for the Department of the Interior also found that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not properly document his own privately chartered flights across the country and that it is unclear whether his wife paid for her travel on the agency’s flights.

– This story was updated at 4:03 p.m. Melanie Zanona contributed.

Tags Ryan Zinke Sherrod Brown Tom Price

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