On the heels of the newly completed safety improvements at the Marshfield Airport (GHG) and in a show of broad support, the Town of Marshfield recently voted to accept the collection of jet fuel excise taxes from those who purchase the fuel for jet aircraft operation.
By definition, all jet fuel purchased locally and used to power turbine driven propeller jets, turbojets, jet-driven aircraft and jet engines will be subject to the new tax.
Jet fuel excise tax is a local, optional tax that only applies in cities and towns that have voted in favor of the tax. Already enacted by numerous other Massachusetts municipalities, including Boston, Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Norwood, North Andover, and Worcester, the excise tax is collected from jet fuel suppliers and paid to the Department of Revenue (DOR), but does not contribute to the state’s General Fund. Rather, monies collected are remitted directly back to the taxing city or town by the DOR.
Sources of Airspace System Funding
Generally speaking, anyone who makes use of the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) helps to pay for the associated costs of developing and maintaining public airports. Whether flying as an airline passenger or private pilot—or simply shipping packages where an aircraft is used in the course of delivery—a standard federal tax on aviation fuel is collected to support the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF).
The AATF, which in part funds the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was established by the Airport and Airway Revenue Act of 1970 as a dedicated source of funding for the aviation system—independent of the General Fund—to ensure essential commitments to the national airway system and air safety can be maintained.
The AATF was specifically designed to finance investments in airport and airway systems and to the extent funds are available, to additionally cover airway system operating costs. Federal taxes are collected for both the use of aviation fuel (avgas) consumed by piston-powered aircraft as well as for the use of jet fuel (Jet A), both of which go directly to the AATF fund.
State Jet Fuel Taxes
Aviation taxes are also collected at the state level, but differ from state to state. In Massachusetts, the current state fuel tax is set at 7.5 per cent of the average price per gallon, as determined by the commissioner, computed to the nearest tenth of a cent per gallon and equal to no less than ten cents per gallon.
Use of state aviation fuel taxes also differs by state, but often state aviation fuel taxes help fund state contributions to matching grant programs from the FAA, as seen in the recent safety improvements at Marshfield Airport (GHG) in which case $13.7 million from FAA was matched by $1.4 million in state funds from MassDOT.
Benefits for Airport, Marshfield Community
Local aviation taxes are one more way municipalities can ensure airports are well maintained to meet the needs of communities. The newly accepted jet fuel tax will directly fund airport requirements including maintenance and improvements, from snow clearance and grounds keeping to noise mitigation and general airport operations.
Said Keith Douglass, president, Shoreline Aviation, “We’re grateful for the ongoing support Marshfield residents have shown for the airport. We get to experience that personally on a day-to-day basis from those who make regular use of the airport. But it’s encouraging to know the community as a whole really supports what we’re doing here.”
Said David Dinneen, airport manager, “There are a lot of ways the community benefits from the airport. From a public safety standpoint, services delivered on an ongoing basis include federal and local law enforcement, Medevac flights and other rescue operations, as well as fire patrol. And the airport has also evolved into a training ground for Marshfield’s youth, providing part-time jobs in addition to flight training and mechanical know-how.”
Added Dinneen, “From the outside, these things aren’t always obvious. So it’s a good feeling knowing the town values what we’re doing here and is committed to supporting airport operations.”