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July 10, 2013 - 2:09pm

State denies targeting flight schools for special enforcement or changing the rules on sales tax

posted by Howard B. Owens in business, taxes, Bob Miller Flight School.

On July 2, we published, Aviation school owner says NYS Taxation and Finance driving him out of business. At the first opportunity the next morning, we sought comment from the NYS Taxation and Finance. After much unnecessary wrangling, we received answers to the following questions from the department's spokesman, Geoff Gloak.

Is Miller's general assertion true that the state has reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools? 

No. Any charge that DTF has suddenly reinterpreted rules regarding sales tax on planes leased to flight schools is inaccurate. There hasn’t been any recent change in the Tax Law on this matter, nor any court decisions we’re aware of that affects the matter. We have always taxed aircraft rental for flight training.

Is it true that over the past 40 years, there has been no sales tax on private planes used by students at flight schools and now there is?

No. An aircraft purchased for flight school training is not, and has not been, exempt from New York State sales tax. There has been no change in practice here.

Is it true that auditors are demanding payment of back taxes from plane owners for up to five years?

Your question seems to suggest that there’s some systematic campaign against people who own airplanes – and any such charge is categorically false. Our focus when it comes to audits is always exactly the same: Was tax due, and was it paid? This is the case for any business, in any industry.

Is it true that auditors are systematically going around to the state's flight schools and looking at whether sales tax has been paid on student's flight hours?

No. That's incorrect. There hasn’t been any change in our audit procedures, which is to examine in some form every tax return filed with the State – whether it’s personal income, corporation, or sales tax. That has been and continues to be our standard audit posture. 

If these assertions are true, what is the rational by taxation and finance? Not applicable.

Is taxation and finance concerned that private plane owners are choosing to end their association with flight schools because of this allegedly new enforcement?

There isn’t any “new enforcement.” Our goal is and always has been to help taxpayers understand the laws and regulations and to enforce those laws and regulations across the board in a fair and equitable manner.

Bob Harker
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Ask yourselves this, folks: who has more credibility these days? A small business person that says he is struggling because of overly oppressive NYS taxation policies and may very well be a victim of the well known tax and spend policies of a completely dysfunctional bureaucracy - or a paid political mouthpiece employed by that very state's taxation department?

Just sayin...

Christopher Putnam
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Typical word salad. Deny, Deny, Deny, lie lie lie.

Kyle Slocum
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Miller may be mis-reading what he is dealing with. However, it IS easy to see this state hunting for cash where it never has bothered to before.

It is also reasonable to think that the same state government that would force laws upon you without any debate, or opportunity for public reaction before passage, would change the rules without notice or warning. Just saying: You shall reap what you sow.

mike nixon
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The State of New York is great, the dept of tax is great and all the people that work there are great.
Just in case, just sayin!

Dave Olsen
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Sounds like Mike has an upcoming audit.

mike nixon
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No, but Chris, Bob, and Kyle do! Whether they know it or not, its coming!?!? LOL

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