Average monthly business aircraft utilization reached 27.97 flight hours during the first three months of the year, marking the highest average level in any first quarter since 2008, according to maintenance support provider Jet Support Service Inc. (JSSI).
JSSI’s first-quarter 2018 Business Aviation Index, released May 1, found that business aviation average flight hours were up 2.9 percent year-over-year. The index tracks utilization of 2,000 business jets, turboprops, and helicopters worldwide, reporting average flight hours flown on a monthly basis by region, industry, and cabin type. “The end of 2017 saw the highest flight hour activity since the peaks of 2008. While the first three months of the year often sees a material drop in [quarter-over-quarter] flight hours, this first quarter dropped by only 0.3 percent,” said JSSI president and CEO Neil Book. “This strong start to 2018 is a positive sign and indicator for global markets.”
According to JSSI, the aviation sector led the growth, with an 8.4 percent increase in flight activity. Healthcare similarly helped drive this growth, with an increase of 8.3 percent, followed by the power and energy sector at 7.3 percent. The consumer goods sector, however, saw an 8.3 percent decline in business aviation activity, and the manufacturing sector reported a 10.4 percent decrease.
by AINalerts : May 1, 2018
Can a prospective aircraft owner benefit from claiming 100 percent “bonus depreciation” even though the owner expects to fly the aircraft for personal use? Yes, with limitations and careful structuring under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). However, in doing so, it is essential to harmonize potentially conflicting rules in the IRCwith the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and state law, including sales/use tax laws.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which became law on December 22, for the first time allows aircraft owners temporarily to take 50 percent or 100 percent bonus depreciation deductions on preowned aircraft. It also doubles the pre-existing 50 percent bonus depreciation to 100 percent of the cost of certain new aircraft.
A business taxpayer who owns an aircraft can take 100-percent bonus depreciation deductions under the IRCagainst gross income if it uses the aircraft in its trade or business or for production of income. However, an owner cannot take depreciation deductions for personal use, including entertainment, amusement, or recreation.
The IRC allows certain owners to deduct depreciation from gross income by two methods. The first is straight-line depreciation created under the Alternative Depreciation System. This allows owners to take equal depreciation deductions each year of the “recovery period”—the years to fully write off aircraft. That is six years for aircraft operated under Part 91 and 12 years for aircraft operating under Part 135.
The other depreciation method is the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). MACRS allows an owner to write off its aircraft and certain helicopters in five years for Part 91 usage and seven years for Part 135 usage. An owner must qualify for MACRS to claim either 100 percent or 50 percent bonus depreciation.
IRC Section 280F prescribes that an aircraft must be “predominantly used in a qualified business use for any taxable year.” This deceptively simple idea presages complex rules about claiming depreciation deductions, including 100 percent bonus depreciation, on mixed personal and business use of aircraft.
It also contains a leasing trap: qualified business use normally does not include leasing aircraft to any 5 percent owner or related person, such as a family member. This rule could prevent an aircraft from qualifying for MACRS(and, by extension, for 100 percent bonus depreciation).
Further, the tax law introduces a new ambiguous requirement—to qualify for 100-percent bonus depreciation, “the original use” of the aircraft must begin with the taxpayer. It is unclear what this means, especially the word “use,” or how it affects new or preowned aircraft. The regulatory morass and value of tax reduction demand careful structuring and calculations to mitigate these risks.
Despite the best business planning, personal use inevitably happens. When it does, owners must calculate the “entertainment disallowance percentage” attributable to their personal use—the portion of entertainment use relative to total flight time or hours.
I often hear prospective owners worry that their personal use might unravel the benefits of 100-percent bonus depreciation, but a special regulation allows an owner to elect and calculate the disallowance in year one on a straight-line basis, spreading out depreciation over six or 12 years.
Once an owner takes 100 percent bonus depreciation, there is no depreciation expense left to deduct starting in year two. As a result, if the owner elects straight-line, the disallowed deduction will be a much smaller amount and, correspondingly, the economic benefit of 100 percent bonus depreciation to the owner should be greater. This approach enables an owner to maximize tax savings and minimize the adverse effect of personal use on bonus depreciation.
Planning for depreciation benefits alone is not enough. Even if the aircraft owner designs the structure to comply with the tax law, that is irrelevant to the FAA. As a result, owners should anticipate facing other structuring hurdles due to potential conflicts of the IRC with the FARs and other laws, particularly state sales- and use-tax laws. For example, under a very common ownership structure, the FARs might compel an owner to push operational control out of certain limited liability companies to persons permitted to operate the aircraft under the FARs.
Although taking that step might avoid conducting illegal flight operations in a “flight department company,” the structure might involve leasing the aircraft to 5 percent owners and related persons. Similarly, 5 percent members of an LLC aircraft owner might lease the aircraft to themselves or related persons to spread out sales tax over a lease term. Owners should vet any such structure as it might run afoul of owner qualifications for MACRS.
With strong interest in tax benefits afforded by the tax law, potential purchasers might join committed ones and “pull the trigger” to acquire a new or preowned aircraft. If, in any aircraft purchase, the prospective owner properly structures its transaction to claim bonus depreciation consistent with the rules in the IRC, the FARs, and state tax laws, bonus depreciation should lower the owner’s cost of capital, increase its after-tax cash flow and reduce its federal tax bill. The value proposition seems obvious, but each owner must decide whether taking bonus depreciation when purchasing an aircraft is worth its while.
The author would like to thank Julianne Christensen, managing member of AeroCPA, LLC, for her extensive assistance on this story.
Business aircraft flying in the U.S. and Canada continued its upward trajectory last month, with activity up 3.5 percent year-over-year, according to TraqPak data released today by Argus International. That was slightly below the 3.8 percent gain the business aviation services company predicted for February; this month, it is expecting a 4.2 percent rise.
By operator category, Part 135 flying once again led the pack, rising 8.8 percent year-over-year, while Part 91 reported a 0.7 percent gain. Fractional activity dipped into the red, falling 0.6 percent from a year ago.
All aircraft categories saw increases last month, with large-cabin jets coming out on top with a 7.1-percent year-over-year uptick. This was followed by midsize jets, up 3.6 percent; turboprops, 2.5 percent; and light jets, 2.3 percent.
The only double-digit gain in individual categories last month belonged to Part 135 large-cabin jets, which rose 14.5 percent from a year ago. Fractional turboprops and large-cabin jets saw double-digit decreases, falling 10.5 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
Activity has steadily increased over the past three Februarys, climbing from approximately 212,000 flights in January 2015 to 237,000 last month, according to Argus. Weekday flying was up 3.2 percent from a year ago, while weekend activity rose 2.6 percent.
by AIN Alerts 3/8/2018
The preowned business jet market transitioned to a seller’s market in December, with inventory now at 9.9 percent, just below the 10 percent threshold of inventory for sale and down from 11 percent in December 2016, according to data released yesterday by JetNet. Inventory of preowned business jets has decreased steadily from a high point of 2,938 aircraft in July 2009, or 17.7 percent of the in-service fleet, to 2,143 jets in December.
“A period of transition is now in play, wherein the pendulum swings [from] in favor of the buyer to the seller,” the business aviation data firm said. “The pristine used jets that were on the market a few years ago have become more challenging to locate. The sage advice for buyers is to act now.”
According to JetNet, there were 2,668 more business jet transactions last year, an increase of 177, or 7.1 percent, over 2016. Preowned transactions were boosted last year by large-cabin jet deals, which accounted for 37 percent, or 992, of the total transactions; this was up 17.3 percent from 2016. Sales of preowned light jets also surged 8.2 percent last year, to 952 transactions. Meanwhile, preowned midsize jet sales slumped 4.9 percent, falling from 630 in 2016 to 599 last year.
Utilization metrics for business aircraft flying in the U.S. and Canada continued to improve last month, with activity up 4 percent year-over-year, according to TraqPak data released today by Argus International. That was well above the 3.3 percent gain that analysts at the business aviation services company predicted last month; this month, they are calling for a 3.8 percent rise.
Flying by both operator type and aircraft category were up across the board last month. Part 135 activity soared by 8 percent year-over-year, while fractional and Part 91 reported upticks of 2.2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. By aircraft category, turboprops led the pack, rising 5.5 percent from a year ago, followed by large-cabin jets, up 4 percent; midsize jets, up 3.1 percent; and light jets, up 2.8 percent.
Activity has steadily increased over the past five Januarys, climbing from approximately 217,000 flights in January 2013 to 240,000 last month, JetNet data shows. Weekday flying was up 2.8 percent from a year ago, while weekend activity jumped 8.5 percent. By U.S. region, the Southeast dominates with 58,234 departures, eclipsing the next busiest—the central West Coast—by more than 23,000 movements.
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.