By Bill Parry
On Earth Day last Friday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted a tax giveaway that allows airlines at LaGuardia and JFK airports to avoid paying city sales tax on airline fuel.
The exemption costs the city anywhere between $100 million and $200 million a year — revenue which, he said, could be used to modernize and green the airports that are consistently ranked among the worst in the country.
Stringer noted that a tax on jet fuel would create a new funding stream to help support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $5 billion project to reconstruct LaGuardia and build a new rail link that would reduce the number of passengers arriving and leaving by private car.
“U.S. airlines have been flying for free when it comes to paying a sales tax on jet fuel, and it’s time to make them pay their fair share,” Stringer said. “Ending this giveaway would help New York City and the Port Authority secure the funds they need to modernize and green our airports, helping cut down on soaring emissions from the aviation industry.”
Unlike millions of New Yorkers who pay the city’s 4.5 percent sales tax everytime they fill up at the pump and with the price of jet fuel at a 12-year low, Stinger said the carriers racked up a record $29 billion in profits last year. Airlines are hit with refueling sales taxes in San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles County, according to Stringer.
“There’s no good reason why airlines should be exempt from a tax that the rest of us pay every day, whether we are buying a sandwich or filling up at the pump,” Stringer said. “By levying city sales tax on jet fuel, our city can invest in transforming our airports into models of sustainability that can help mitigate the enormous footprint of air travel.”
Joseph Sitt, founder of Global Gateway Alliance, which advocates for improved airports, backed Stringer’s call for a new city tax to help fund airport improvement projects.
“New York airports need billions to finally make them world class instead of Third World,so dedicated new revenue sources are the right approach,” Sitt said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr