Economics of Aviation

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Bonus Depreciation

Bonus depreciation may allow aircraft owners to realize the depreciation benefits of an eligible asset more quickly. Aircraft owners are not entitled to more depreciation, but are allowed to obtain the benefits of depreciation more quickly. When available, bonus depreciation can be utilized by owners of many capital assets and is not an aviation specific benefit.

The U.S. House and Senate have approved extensions of bonus depreciation on numerous occasions, which affirms what many industry analysts and economists understand – that businesses are unable to fully deduct the initial cost of capital investments, including those made in new aircraft, as they do with labor and raw material. Instead, they must write these costs off over many years, and, as a result, never recoup the full value of investments that drive economic growth.

Bonus depreciation delivers long-term stimulus to industries like general aviation, which provides high-skill, and high-paying, jobs for more than 1.1 million Americans, and is responsible for generating $219 billion in economic activity in the United States annually. It also gives American companies access to advanced equipment, including aircraft, making them more competitive, while preserving jobs in aviation-related manufacturing, one of the few industries that contributes positively to America’s trade balance.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provides for 100 percent bonus depreciation, allowing taxpayers immediate deduction of the cost of aircraft acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2027 (Jan. 1, 2028 for longer production period property and certain aircraft). Through the efforts of NBAA and a coalition of general aviation groups, the new law permits 100 percent bonus depreciation for both factory-new and pre-owned aircraft so long as it is the taxpayer’s first use of the aircraft.

Learn More about New Depreciation Rules Under the 2017 Tax Act.

By NBAA

2018-02-12T10:57:46+00:00 February 12th, 2018|Aircraft Tax, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

Tax Reform Highlights for Business Aviation

The House and Senate have both voted to pass major tax reform legislation, and are expected to send the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Bill”) to the president for his signature before Christmas. The legislation contains important changes for business aviation in several areas.

100-Percent Expensing (Bonus Depreciation)

A 2015 Act extended bonus depreciation for qualified property (including commercial and non-commercial aircraft used in a trade or business with a recovery period of 20 years or less) through 2019, with a phase-down over time from 50 percent to 30 percent.

Under the Tax Bill, however, the current law would be amended to provide for 100-percent expensing, which will allow taxpayers immediately to write off the cost of aircraft acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2023 (Jan. 1, 2024 for longer production period property and certain aircraft). Through the efforts of NBAA and a coalition of general aviation groups, the new law would permit 100 percent expensing by the taxpayer for both factory-new and pre-owned aircraft so long as it is the taxpayer’s first use of the aircraft.

For tax years after 2022, the bill provides for a phase down of bonus depreciation in increments of 20 percent each year for qualified aircraft acquired and placed in service before Jan. 1, 2027 (Jan. 1, 2028 for longer production period property and certain aircraft).

Like-Kind Exchanges

Under current law, when property (including business aircraft) held for productive use in the taxpayer’s trade or business or for investment is exchanged for property that is “like-kind,” a special rule under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 1031 provides that no gain or loss is recognized to the extent that the replacement property is also held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment purposes.

The Tax Bill modifies this special rule only to allow for like-kind exchanges of real property. As a result, taxpayers will no longer be eligible to defer taxable gain on the sale of aircraft via a like-kind exchange, and the gain would be subject to recapture for tax purposes. This provision is effective for transfers after 2017, and is a permanent repeal of application of IRC § 1031 rules to exchanges involving aircraft and other tangible personal property.

However, a transition rule preserves like-kind exchanges of personal property if the taxpayer has either disposed of the relinquished property or acquired the replacement property on or before Dec. 31, 2017. Further, 100 percent expensing of new and used property helps to compensate for the repeal of like-kind exchanges for tangible personal property, though unlike such repeal and as noted above, 100 percent expensing is scheduled to expire in 2023/2024 with an additional phase down until 2027/2028.

Prohibition on Deduction of Employees’ Commuting Expenses

The Tax Bill prohibits employers from deducting the cost of providing transportation to employees to commute between the employee’s residence and place of employment unless provided for the safety of the employee. It is unclear whether this new provision would allow the deduction of commuting expenses included in income, and if so, whether such deduction is limited to only the actual amount of the expense included in income.

Disallowance of Travel Expenses “Directly Related” to Business

The Tax Bill makes far-reaching changes to the basic deduction disallowance rules for business entertainment which could affect many aircraft owners. Historically, the general rule of IRC § 274 disallowed all entertainment expenses (assuming no exception applied) unless directly related or associated with the active conduct of the business. Therefore, the 100 percent deduction disallowance did not apply to the entertainment of business customers, prospective clients, company retreats and other entertainment events where business was conducted immediately before, during or after the entertainment, or the entertainment was clearly associated with a business goal unrelated to providing the entertainment such as the opening of a new business location. Beginning in 2018, the Tax Bill disallows all entertainment expenditures, regardless of whether they are directly related to a business goal.

Repeal of Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions, Including Employee Business Expenses

The Tax Bill eliminates miscellaneous itemized deductions, including employee business expenses beginning in 2018 and before Jan. 1, 2026. Prior to the amendment, employees could deduct expenses incurred in performing their work, subject to the limitation that such expenses (along with other miscellaneous itemized deductions) were only deductible to the extent that the total of such expenses exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income.

The 2% floor was a simplification measure in the 1986 Tax Act under which very few taxpayers needed actually to calculate their miscellaneous itemized deductions. For the same reason, eliminating the deduction is expected to affect relatively few taxpayers. However, the effect on the taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is not extremely high and who are currently able to deduct their aircraft expenses as employee business expenses to the extent they exceed the 2 percent floor could be substantial. Such taxpayers may want to consider restructuring their compensation arrangements into accountable plan arrangements, which are not affected by the Tax Bill.

Transportation Excise Tax Does Not Apply to Owner Flights on Managed Aircraft

The Tax Bill also amends IRC § 4261 by adding a new subsection to clarify that owner flights on managed aircraft are not subject to Federal Transportation Excise Tax (FET) ticket tax, but rather are subject to the non-commercial fuel tax. This issue has been the subject of controversy for more than 60 years, and this amendment clarifies the law consistent with the understanding of most people in the industry.

The FET exception applies to payments by the aircraft owner (or lessee) for aircraft management services related to maintenance, support or flights on the aircraft. The exception does not actually require that the owner be on the flight or that the flight be on the business of the owner, but only that the owner (or lessee) pay for the aircraft management services.

“Aircraft management services” are defined broadly, and no distinction is drawn between payments for aircraft management services versus payments for transportation services. It is sufficient that the payments by the owner (or lessee) ultimately cover the aircraft functions identified in the statute as aircraft management services. Since the only requirement is that the payments for aircraft management services be made by the owner or lessee, there appears to be no need to analyze whether or not the management company exercises possession, command and control of the aircraft.

The amendment includes new IRC § 4261(e)(5)(D) that appears to provide that if a portion of any payment is for taxable transportation but such portion is not paid for “aircraft management services,” then such portion of the payment is taxable. While this provision could cause confusion, we believe it is intended to mean that when a payment includes a taxable portion (such as payment for a flight on an aircraft not owned by the payor) and a nontaxable portion (such as payment with respect to a flight on an aircraft owned by the payor), only the taxable portion is subject to FET.

The FET exception only applies with respect to flights paid for by the owner or lessee. Accordingly, if an owner leases the aircraft to a management company, and an affiliate of the owner pays the management company for the flight, the exception would not appear to apply. In contrast, if the aircraft owner leases the aircraft to its affiliate and the affiliate (being a lessee) pays the management company for services related to the flight, then the exception would apply.

Entities that may be disregarded for income tax purposes (such as single-member LLCs, qualified subchapter S subsidiaries and grantor trusts) are respected as separate entities for FET purposes and can expect to be respected for purposes of this exception. For example, if a company owns a single-member LLC which owns an aircraft, the FET exception would not appear to apply to payments by the company to a management company to manage the aircraft. However, if the LLC leases the aircraft to the company, then the company’s payments should be covered by the exception.

The FET exception will not apply to payments by a lessee that is leasing the aircraft from the management company under a lease with a term of thirty-one (31) days or less. This is intended to prevent the exception from applying to one-off customers of a charter company who structure their charters as wet leases. Such a wet lease structure may also be problematic from an FAA regulatory perspective.

The provision is effective for payments after the date of enactment, which could be as early as Dec. 22, 2017. While the provision will not be directly applicable to owner flights prior to this date, we understand that the IRS has recently been (correctly) interpreting current law to not impose FET on management fees with respect to owner flights and we would hope that this provision would reinforce that approach.

Acknowledgments

This article was written by NBAA Tax Committee members John B. Hoover, Cooley LLP, and Ruth Wimer, Winston & Strawn LLP, with thanks to Richard C. Farley, Jr., PwC, and Jeff Wieand, Boston Jet Search. Learn more about the NBAA Tax Committee.

by NBAA Tax Committee

2018-01-11T13:26:55+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Aircraft Tax, Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

Jetcraft Forecast Sees Upward Sales Trend

In its annual 10-year business jet market forecast released October 4, Jetcraft (SD01) predicted an upward trend for new business jet sales. Jetcraft acquires, trades and brokers both new and preowned executive and VIP jets.

Jetcraft’s 2017 forecast calls for 8,349 business jet deliveries by 2026, representing $252 billion in revenues (based on 2017 pricing). North America leads the way with 62 percent of deliveries (5,176 aircraft), followed by Europe with 17 percent and Asia with 12 percent (1,420 and 1,002 aircraft, respectively).

Over the past decade the average aircraft list price increased by 56 percent. The forecast sees that number growing by an additional 16 percent by 2026. How might that happen? Jetcraft predicts that 98 percent of the forecasted revenues from new programs will be for widebody or large business jets such as the Citation Hemisphere, Global 7000 and Gulfstream G500 and G600.

“Pinpointing the transition into a new business cycle is challenging,” said Jetcraft chairman Jahid Fazal-Karim. “Our forecast indicates we are finally exiting the post-2008 recession period, entering several years of steadier, healthier growth and expanding revenues.”

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by AINalerts  10/9/2017

2017-10-09T10:53:23+00:00 October 9th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, Business Aircraft Industry News, Economics of Aviation|

UBS Bizjet Index Jumps 10% as Pre-owned Turns Corner

The latest UBS Business Jet Market Index jumped 10 percent from the August survey as respondents noted healthier pre-owned business jet inventories and improved pricing, as well as higher customer interest. Now at 53, the index score returns to its post-U.S. election high and denotes an improving market.

By cabin size, midsize jets took the lead with an index score of 54, up 7 percent sequentially. This was followed by light jets at 53, a 15 percent increase, and large-cabin jets at 51, which climbed 12 percent from August. UBS Global Research said the straight-up measure of absolute business conditions came in at 5.4, up 5 percent from the previous survey and the highest since before the financial crisis.

According to UBS aerospace analysts David Strauss and Darryl Genovesi, the overall index reflects an improved view of pre-owned aircraft pricing and inventory, with those scores soaring 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively, along with higher customer interest, which rose 11 percent. North American customer interest increased 11 percent and remains strongest at a score of 70, followed by an “improving” Europe (56), while Asia (51), Latin America (48) and the Middle East (47) “appear stable to slightly improving.”

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by AINalerts  October 5, 2017

2017-10-05T13:29:49+00:00 October 5th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

North American Bizav Flying ‘Sizzles’ in August

Business aviation flight activity in North America “sizzled” last month, recording a 5.2 percent year-over-year increase, according to TrakPak data released today by Argus International. This is the largest month operations-wise since May 2008 and shattered the business aviation data firm’s 3.3 percent growth forecast for August; it is predicting 3.2 percent this month.

Last month’s results were fueled by a 10.9 percent year-over-year increase in Part 135 charter activity. Part 91K fractional flying also posted a solid 7 percent gain and, for the first time in several months, Part 91 activity was in the black, rising 0.9 percent.

Large-cabin jet activity continued to dominate the aircraft categories, climbing 7.2 percent year-over-year in August. This was followed by light jets, up 5.5 percent; midsize jets, up 4.8 percent; and turboprops, up 4.5 percent.

In individual categories, the Part 135 segment nearly had across-the-board double-digit gains, with the exception of light jets under this catergory, which rose 9.1 percent from a year ago. Part 135 turboprop, midsize jet and large-cabin jet flying soared 11.3 percent, 11.4 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, fractional light jet activity rose 17 percent year-over-year. Only Part 91 light jets recorded a slight loss, falling 0.2 percent.

 

by AINalerts  9/13/2017

2017-09-13T13:28:23+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Blog, Economics of Aviation, General Aviation, Uncategorized|

No Evident Change in Bizav Market Demand

Rockwell Collins is standing by the conservative business aviation market outlook it took at the beginning of the year, according to company president and CEO Kelly Ortberg. “We have seen about what we’ve expected in business aviation,” he told AIN during a recent media event at the company’s Winston-Salem, North Carolina seat-manufacturing facility. “We saw a lot of rate decreases last year. I haven’t seen further rate reductions, and I haven’t seen upticks.”

Ortberg remains hopeful that business aviation will bottom out sometime next year. In the meantime, Rockwell Collins has begun to explore synergies between its legacy operation and its new interiors systems business, the former B/E Aerospace.

One example came during a recent discussion with a dealer about an upgrade package for a legacy business jet, Ortberg said. The discussions focused on the flight deck, but when Rockwell Collins shared possible additions from its interiors business, the conversation changed. “The dealer had no idea that there is another set of certified seats and other interior products we can add to that package,” he explained. “The package went from a flight-deck upgrade to an aircraft upgrade. The dealer is ecstatic about the business opportunities.”

Connecting the B/E Aerospace business, which did not have dealers, with Rockwell Collins’s 300-strong dealer network is one of several near-term business aviation opportunities that the new, larger company is pursuing.

by AINalerts  6/5/2017

2017-06-13T02:14:16+00:00 June 5th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

NBAA Secures Expanded Small Aircraft Exemption

The U.S. FAA has granted a two-year extension of NBAA’s Small Aircraft Exemption and removed limitations on the applicability to operations outside the U.S. The approval continues an exemption that has been in place since 1972 and historically ran for two years during each extension. But in recent years, the FAA has granted one-year or six-month extensions.

The latest, Exemption 7897I, runs through March 31, 2019, and permits NBAA members who operate piston-powered small aircraft and rotorcraft to take advantage of maintenance and cost-sharing options typically available only to operators of larger, turbine aircraft (more than 12,500 pounds) under Part 91 Subpart F.

Cost reimbursement options are extended under the exemption when NBAA members transport a guest or employees of subsidiary companies on company aircraft. Time-sharing, interchange and joint ownership agreements are also permitted.

Previous exemptions did not cover cost-sharing options when the operations were conducted outside the U.S. NBAA has worked with the FAA to expand that applicability to those operations.

“NBAA is pleased that the FAA has responded favorably to NBAA’s requests for a longer extension period and applicability of the exemption to operations conducted outside the U.S.,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “Our long-established small aircraft exemption is a valuable tool for small aircraft operators. It will provide even more benefits with these two positive changes, which allow operators better long-range planning and remove unnecessary restrictions on international operations.”

by AINalerts 4/5/2017

2017-06-13T02:14:16+00:00 April 5th, 2017|Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation, FAA|

Hidden Damage

The Market Stigma of a Damaged Aircraft

Hidden-Damage

What’s the worst thing that can happen to your business jet in an accident or incident, assuming that you, the crew, and your passengers all are safe and unharmed? You might think that it’s a situation resulting in a total loss of the aircraft, but that’s not the case.

For example, if a hangar roof collapses in a storm, destroying your aircraft and making repairs unfeasible, your insurance company most likely would declare it a total loss and issue replacement funds. However, if your airplane is only damaged, and not totally destroyed, your insurer may opt to repair it, leaving you with an aircraft that operates just fine but now has damage history.

In a depressed used aircraft market, even one that now is showing signs of recovery, an aircraft that has sustained physical damage can be hard to sell. Despite the aircraft having been fully restored to an airworthy condition, and regardless of the quality and completeness of repairs, merely having had any damage will have a negative impact on the aircraft’s resale value.

In today’s marketplace, with two aircraft sitting side-by-side, identical in every way except for damage history, the aircraft previously damaged will command a lower price. This difference in value between a damaged aircraft and an identical undamaged one is referred to as the “diminution of value.”

And that is the “hidden damage” that cannot be mitigated or repaired.

The amount of diminution of value that results from damage depends on many factors, including the type of aircraft, the extent of damage, the time since the damage, the method and quality of the repairs, and how the repairs were documented in the aircraft records and logbooks, among many others.

And the marketplace is less accepting of damage history on certain classes of aircraft. For example, the perceived market stigma of damage is far greater to a corporate jet than it would be to a single-engine trainer aircraft or to a commercial airliner.

Damage to any aircraft always is considered a serious matter, especially as it relates to diminution of value. Contrary to past practice, diminution of value resulting from damage cannot be determined easily by consulting accepted, published industry price guides. One cannot do so simply by looking at a chart’s columns stating light, moderate, or heavy damage, and then applying a simple sliding scale formula to be allocated as a deduction to the aircraft value.

For that reason, most published price guides no longer include damage deduction charts. Instead, they advise readers to engage “an experienced appraiser” when assessing the fair market value of a damaged aircraft.

No two damage events ever have the same impact on an aircraft’s market value. When damage occurs, the amount of value diminution suffered by a damaged aircraft must be determined case-by-case. While all aircraft appraisers must meet standards set by the American Society of Appraisers, some exceed those standards. In performing a formal fair market value appraisal report, 35 specific categories of damage assessment must be evaluated. The careful appraiser, specializing in diminution assessments, will take into consideration more than 175 additional individual points, such as:

  • Severity of Damage and Plan for Repair
  • Capability of the Repair Facility
  • Manufacture’s Authorization of the Facility
  • Time, Flight Hours/Cycles Since Repairs Completed
  • Level of Detailed Documentation of Repairs (Historical Records).

In addition to these analysis factors, current market conditions – that is, the inventory of comparable make/model aircraft for sale – always must be considered for an additional value adjustment based on the current supply versus demand.

A damage event is not something that any aircraft owner wants or expects. However, understanding the impact to the aircraft’s fair market value after the smoke clears and the dust settles will be critical to its future resale value.

 

2017-06-13T02:14:17+00:00 March 20th, 2017|Aircraft Insurance, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

Court Blocks New U.S. Overtime Requirements

In a move welcomed by aviation businesses, a U.S. district court has issued an preliminary injunction to block a new Department of Labor rule that would significantly increase eligibility of mandatory overtime. The Labor Department (DOL) in May released the rule, which increased the minimum salary for employees “exempt” from mandatory overtime requirements from $23,660 to $47,476. Under the rule, the exempt threshold would be adjusted periodically. The rule was to take effect December 1.

DOL issued the rule, which increased the number of employees eligible for mandatory overtime from six million to 11 million, over the objections of numerous business groups, including a number of aviation entities. NATA had expressed concern over the impact on small businesses and NBAA had noted that the change was among “the most substantial since the introduction of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938.”

Twenty-one states and more than 50 business organizations are challenging the rule, and on November 22 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking both implementation and enforcement of the rule. The court determined that the rule “does not comport with Congress’s intent” as far as who is exempt from the mandatory threshold. The court noted that the rule’s “significant increase to the salary level creates essentially a de facto salary-only test” for exemption, but said this was not in line with congressional intent.

The court noted arguments made by the states that the rule’s provision for periodic adjustments is illegal, because it bypasses a notice and comment period. The court further determined that “because the final rule is unlawful, the court concludes the department also lacks the authority to implement the automatic updating mechanism.”

While the lawsuit was filed by specific states and businesses, the court decided to apply its ruling nationwide because “the scope of the alleged irreparable injury extends nationwide” and added that such application would protect employers and employees from being subject to different regulations based on location.

Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO David Melcher lauded the ruling, echoing the belief that the rule exceeded DOL’s statutory authority and cited Congressional Budget Office estimates that the rule would impose more than $1 billion in costs to business.

A responsible increase to the salary threshold for overtime pay is due; however, DOL’s rule moves too far, too fast and disproportionately impacts small businesses, nonprofits, local governments and academic institutions,” Melcher added.

 

2017-06-13T02:14:24+00:00 November 29th, 2016|Blog, Economics of Aviation|

It’s a Buyer’s Market, Say NARA Brokers

The largest display area in the NBAA 2016 static park at Orlando Executive Airport is that of the National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA). The association has 34 aircraft on show “and all are for sale,” board member Sabrina Prewitt, who is also senior v-p at Jack Prewitt & Associates, told AIN. The array includes four G550s, a G650, a 7X, a Global 6000 and a GIV-SP.

At NARA’s static display, many brokers told AIN they have started recently to enjoy a resurgence in pre-owned aircraft sales.

Nick Schneider of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Global Wings said the market “seems to have opened up in the last 30 days. That was the consensus of a number of NARA members at our meeting on Monday.” He suggested that this could indicate that the bottom of the market has been reached, although he conceded that “the interest for us has been mainly U.S. based.”

Jack Prewitt of Jack Prewitt & Associates had a similar outlook but anticipates a slow climb from the bottom. “The market will go back up but I can’t tell you when it’s going to start. It’s been going down for eight years and I think it’ll take eight years to come back up to where it was.” According to Richard Emery, COO of Dallas, Texas-based Mente Group, “Today’s problem is that there are too many models to match market demand. If product development slips, the brand is at risk.” This is putting the OEMs under a lot of pressure, he concluded.

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by AINalerts : 11/2/2016

2017-06-13T02:14:25+00:00 November 2nd, 2016|Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation|

Jetcraft forecasts 7,879 deliveries 10 years

Business Aviation

Jetcraft has released a new 10 year business jet delivery forecast, covering the years 2016 to 2025.

The company is forecasting there will be a total of 7,879 deliveries worth over $248 billion during the period.

North America is expected to solidify its position as the leading market business aviation market, with Jetcraft forecasting 60% of all business jet shipments will go into the region. The gains in North America are largely at the expense of Latin America, where the forecast of 5% of all deliveries is a big drop from the 9% predicted in 2015.

Jetcraft’s rational behind the drop is an outpouring of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals from faltering emerging economies. This has affected the outlook for Asia Pacific as well, with the forecast dropping below 1,000 units to 789, a 2% downward correction.

Both of these drops are larger than the 1% dip in deliveries that are predicted to Russia and the CIS, where total deliveries are expected to reach 315. Although it is difficult to know how many aircraft are currently in the country, 315 deliveries will roughly double the size of the fleet.

“Last year, we highlighted the unpredictability of our industry since 2008, and the impact of global events during the past 12 months have certainly continued this trend,” said Jahid Fazal-Karim, chairman, Jetcraft. “As global factors continue to influence the business aviation market, we are uniquely positioned—through our 20+ offices worldwide—to qualitatively test our forecast’s assumptions and the impact of these global factors on the ground, providing a cumulative view that joins our analysis with real-world business transactions,”

By Alud Davies October 14, 2016 , CorporateJetInvestor

2017-06-13T02:14:26+00:00 October 17th, 2016|Blog, Business Aircraft Industry News, Economics of Aviation|

GAO Report Validates NBAA Position on Improper Diversion of Jet-A Taxes

Washington, DC, Aug. 10, 2016 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today said a new government report validates long-standing concerns expressed by NBAA and other groups about the validity of a so-called “fuel fraud” provision on aviation taxes.

The report, published this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), determined that as a result of the provision, between $1 billion and $2 billion has been improperly held back from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund over largely unfounded concerns about the use of aviation jet fuel in ground vehicles.

In place for more than 10 years, the provision automatically diverted a portion of excise taxes on turbine aircraft fuel to the Highway Trust Fund, based on the purported rationale that commercial truck operators might have been avoiding payment of taxes on diesel fuel by instead purchasing the turbine aircraft fuel for use in their vehicles.

The provision tasks aviation fuel vendors with voluntarily filing for credits on a per-transaction basis, which then correctly routes those funds for aviation-related uses. In comments to the GAO, NBAA and other stakeholders noted the credit process is unnecessarily burdensome, and offers little practical incentive for vendors to follow it.

Read the new GAO Report on the impact of the fuel fraud provision on aviation-infrastructure funding.

“After an extensive and unbiased investigative process, the GAO’s findings validate our belief that the current system is fundamentally flawed, and not structurally aligned with the intent of either the highway or aviation trust funds,” said NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown.

The report, which came about following a request for a GAO investigation on the issue by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-4-KS), determined that any uses of aviation fuel in ground vehicles over the past decade have been “rare,” and that both “economic and technological disincentives” further restrict the likelihood of such diversions taking place today.

“We thank Congressman Pompeo for his request for a fair and equitable, third-party investigation on this issue,” Brown continued. “With the facts from this report now in hand, our hope is that Congress will correct this issue in a future transportation bill that properly routes all turbine fuel excise tax revenues to the aviation trust fund.”

 

by  Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

2017-06-13T02:14:29+00:00 August 15th, 2016|Aircraft Tax, Aviation News, Blog, Economics of Aviation, Government Regulation|

Aircraft Dry Leases

There are numerous reasons companies place aircraft in leasing structures – and several legal responsibilities flight department personnel need to be aware of.

Leasing is a common practice for business aircraft, but not always well understood. Aviation personnel may fly, maintain and schedule an aircraft without giving much thought to its ownership and leasing structure – until it affects the operation.

“I think people are sometimes put off by it because leasing is complex and setting a lease up requires legal consultation,” said Ryan Demoor, a financial analyst for aviation at Amway. “But there are good reasons for it, especially when there are users with different needs for the airplane.”

Business airplane leases fall into two categories: leases from a bank, which are simply a means of financing to acquire an aircraft, and related-party leases, which are a way to facilitate utilization of the aircraft. A business may set up a lease between related parties for several reasons, including FAA regulations, state sales-tax planning, risk management and sharing the use of an aircraft.

Nonexclusive Dry Lease

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAA Compliance Considerations

For certain types of aircraft uses, FAA operational rules make leasing necessary. Part 91 permits aircraft operations that do not involve compensation or hire, with only a few narrow exceptions. Any type of reimbursement or capital contributions to the entity that operates the aircraft are generally considered compensation.

While Part 91 does allow chargebacks and other methods of cost sharing between entities in an affiliated group, the FAA has limitations on which structures qualify for grouping together. For certain structures involving more than one legal entity or subsidiary, leasing may be necessary in order to share costs between the parties and still comply with Part 91.

For companies seeking to offset the costs of aircraft ownership, Part 91 prohibits offering the aircraft for charter (that would require a Part 135 certificate). However, leasing allows a company to transfer operational control of the aircraft to a Part 135 charter carrier and receive a portion of the charter revenue in the form of lease payments.

“I also see leasing to employees when they need the aircraft for personal use,” said Barbera. “When the company wants to avoid providing use of the aircraft as a perquisite, a time-sharing agreement – which is a type of ‘wet lease’

[in which the lessor provides both the aircraft and the crew] – enables the employee to pay back the incremental costs – limited to two times the cost of fuel, plus some other specific expenses – in exchange for use of the airplane and a flight crew.”

In addition, the FAA’s complex citizenship definitions may prevent a limited partnership or other entity owned or controlled by non-citizens from qualifying as a registered owner on the FAA Aircraft Registry. “In these cases,” said Barbera, “it’s common practice for an owner/ trustee to register the aircraft with the FAA and lease the aircraft or license it to the company for its business use.”

Dry Leases and Sales Tax Planning

The FAA also does not permit a single-purpose entity with no function other than operating aircraft to conduct flights under Part 91. This is often referred to as “the flight department company trap,” and it hinges on the Part 91 requirement that aircraft operations be incidental to the business.

“If you’re under Part 91, the entity that operates the aircraft cannot only be in the business of operating the airplane,” explained Jeff Wieand, senior vice president of Boston JetSearch. “That would not be ‘incidental to the company’s business,’ because, for that entity, air transportation would be the business.”

One of the most common strategies companies use to avoid this trap is having a separate legal entity acquire the airplane. This entity then leases the aircraft to the existing business but does not employ or provide the flight crew. This is called a “dry lease.” The lessee has full operational control of the airplane. For Part 91 operators, federal excise tax generally should not apply to the payments under a dry lease.

Aircraft Dry Lease Leasing is also a common planning strategy for managing state sales-tax payments. Many states have a sale-forresale tax exemption. An ownership structure involving a dry lease to a related party can allow state sales tax to be paid by the aircraft users on each lease payment, instead of immediately upon purchase.

“Whether you want to take advantage of the sale-forresale exemption or not depends on the law in the state you’re in, how long you’re planning to keep the airplane, its purchase price, the sales tax rate and current lease rates,” explained Demoor.

Lease payments should be made at an arms-length rate, and the entire structure must be properly documented. Special attention should be paid to the lease rate, and it may be helpful to have an appraisal of the aircraft’s value to support the amount of the lease payment.

Risk Management and Multiple Users

When an aircraft is used by more than one party, leasing can be the most effective way to allocate ownership liability and operational liability among the various users.

Sometimes, a company’s lenders or other stakeholders will place limits on the types of assets that a company may own. “Similarly, in certain highly regulated industries – such as utilities, banking and insurance – regulations may discourage direct ownership of an aircraft,” said Barbera. “In these cases, it may be necessary for the aircraft be owned in a separate entity and leased to the business that uses it.”

It’s not uncommon for small businesses or business partners to share the use of an aircraft. For example, doctors, real-estate developers or retail franchise owners may find it economical to use a business airplane by sharing the costs among all the users. A common way to accomplish this is through leasing.

“Say you have two business partners,” suggested Demoor, “who together purchase a Beechcraft Bonanza for their work, but one of them travels once a week and the other only needs the airplane about 30 hours a year.

Naturally, they’d want to segregate the ownership costs of the airplane from the usage costs. So each of their companies could dry lease the airplane from a separate entity that owns the aircraft whenever they need to use it.” This structure enables decentralized business users to proportionately bear the operating costs of the airplane, but each lessee is in operational control of all flights under the lease.

“In a structure with several, nonexclusive dry leases, you can’t require the other lessees to use your pilots,” advised Jeff Agur, CEO of The VanAllen Group. “The pilots can be independent contractors or employees of a management company, but cannot be provided by the entity that owns the aircraft.” You can stipulate that any pilot flying the aircraft must meet FAA and insurance requirements, “but each lessee needs to have the flexibility, every time they fly, in choosing a flight crew.”

Be Aware of FAA Requirements

Companies may set up leasing structures for several of the aforementioned reasons, or for other reasons, including federal tax planning, minimizing employee perquisites (required reporting by the Securities and Exchange Commission for directors and executives) and transportation of other related parties, such as board members. Whatever the reason, leasing structures trigger certain FAA regulatory requirements.

A business may set up a lease between related parties for several reasons, including FAA regulations, state sales-tax planning, risk management and sharing the use of an aircraft.

For leases of large (over 12,500 pounds) or turbine- powered aircraft, Part 91 requires a written lease agreement. “A copy of the lease needs to be carried onboard every time you fly,” said Demoor. “Also, the FAA’s truth-in-leasing requirements are two-fold: Within 24 hours of executing a lease, you need to send a copy to the FAA’s Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City. Second, the first time any entity uses a leased aircraft for the first time, you need to notify your local flight standards district office at least 48 hours prior to the flight.”

Because a dry lease is a transfer of operational control, Demoor stressed it’s critical for flight crews to always keep track of who the lessee and lessor are on any flight. “Especially if you have several nonexclusive leases to different entities,” he said, “you need to know who the actual operator is, who’s responsible for that flight.”

Before a flight is dispatched, Demoor ensures that the flight crew writes down the name of the aircraft owner, the entity operating that flight and the user entity represented by the passengers. “If you’re ramp checked,” warned Demoor, “those will be the first questions out of the inspector’s mouth.”

Also for multiple users, every lessee should be on the insurance certificate. In addition, “you need letters of authorization (LOAs) for each of the different dry lessees,” said Agur. “For every operator, you also need a minimum equipment list and – if applicable – an RVSM and other LOAs that may be required for the flight.”

Dec. 4, 2015 

by NBAA

2017-06-13T02:14:33+00:00 June 14th, 2016|Blog, Economics of Aviation, FAA, Government Regulation, Leasing|

Qualifying for Bonus Depreciation

At the end of 2015, Congress extended bonus depreciation through 2019 when it approved a legislative package of tax extenders. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act extends the 50-percent special allowance for depreciation through 2017, with a phase-down ending in 2019.

Aircraft buyers now have some certainty about the availability of bonus depreciation for their tax planning purposes. But aircraft can only qualify for bonus depreciation if they meet specific operating requirements every year the deduction is taken.

NBAA Checklist: Qualifying for Bonus Depreciation

“There are a handful of things aircraft buyers need to know and do to qualify for bonus depreciation,” said Scott O’Brien, NBAA senior manager for finance and tax policy. “So there are some key questions to ask your advisor before – and after – a purchase.”

THREE MAIN REQUIREMENTS

To qualify for bonus depreciation, an aircraft must be new and meet the requirements of the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS).

YEAR BONUS DEPRECIATION
2015 50 percent
2016 50 percent
2017 50 percent
2018 40 percent
2019 30 percent

For qualifying aircraft, the phase-down rules provide an additional year of bonus depreciation, depending on when the sales contract was signed, and when the aircraft was placed in service.

There are three main requirements an aircraft must meet. It must be new , it must meet the 280F test and it must be predominantly used in the United States.

To qualify for MACRS, at least half the aircraft use must be “qualified business use.” While the tax code permits personal flights by employees provided as compensation to be counted as qualified business use to meet the 50-percent test, there is another test in Section 280F that requires at least 25 percent of the total use to be business use, for which no flights for personal purposes may count.

In recent audit practice, the IRS has not allowed any flights on aircraft leased from a related party by five-percent owners or their relatives to count as ‘qualified business use,’ but thanks to NBAA’s efforts, the Treasury Department has indicated that practice could change in 2016.

There is also a test the IRS has used since the 1970s for whether an aircraft is predominantly flown in the United Sates. It requires, that, on average, an N-registered aircraft make a flight to or from the United States at least every two weeks over the course of a year.

The new phase-down rules generally provide an extra year of bonus depreciation for qualifying aircraft. For example, the 30-percent bonus depreciation rate is available if a written binding contract is signed before the end of 2019 and the aircraft is put in service in 2020.

A written binding contract has to be enforceable under state law, and if the contract includes a provision giving the buyer a right to walk away from the purchase for less than five percent in liquidation damages, then it’s not considered binding.

Due to a drafting error, the tax extenders law did not include a transition rule for aircraft to use 50-percent bonus depreciation if under contract in 2017 and placed in service in 2018. But the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has clarified that the transition rule should be in place.

by NBAA

2017-06-13T02:14:34+00:00 June 13th, 2016|Aircraft Tax, Blog, Economics of Aviation|