California Bill Would Require Registration Fees, Emissions Taxes for Aircraft

Commercial airlines would be exempt. The measure leaves it to the DMV to determine dollar amounts.
California Bill Would Require Registration Fees, Emissions Taxes for Aircraft
A single-engine aircraft over Catalina Island on March 30, 2002. (P. Alejandro Díaz/Intersofia/Public Domain)
Travis Gillmore

Newly introduced legislation in California would mandate administration registration fees for some aircraft and taxes to account for emissions.

Senate Bill 1505, authored by state Sen. Henry Stern would require aircraft registered in California to begin paying such fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Zero emissions aircraft, commercial airlines, and some chartered jet services would be exempt.

Without clarifying how the fees would be calculated, the senator’s office said the process is comparable to automobile registrations.

“This registration is simply the same as registering a vehicle at the DMV,” a spokesperson for Mr. Stern’s office told The Epoch Times by email Feb. 23.

No dollar amounts are specified by the bill, and the DMV would ultimately determine them, if the bill becomes law.

It is unclear if the emissions tax would be for miles flown, type of aircraft, or some combination of the two.

The bill would order the DMV to calculate such amounts to “combat the detrimental environmental impacts of aircraft emissions, including particulate matter emissions.”

Proponents say such a tax is needed to address the impact of aircraft flight on the environment—pointing to ranges of 60 gallons to 700 gallons of fuel burned per hour depending on aircraft type.

Money collected would be deposited into a newly-formed Aircraft Registration Account in the state’s Transportation Fund.

More than 24,000 aircraft are registered in the Golden State—the second highest in the country behind Texas’s more than 27,000—though it is unclear how many would be subject to the proposed taxes.

Currently, aircraft owners in California pay fees to register with the Federal Aviation Administration. No state registration fees are levied, though property taxes on aircraft are assessed annually based on market value.

Some other states charge for aircraft registration—with 42 either charging property tax, fees to register, or both—but none add fees for emissions.

Mr. Stern introduced a bill last year that would have studied aircraft-related emissions, but the measure ultimately stalled in the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee.

He blamed airports and the aviation industry for killing the measure.

“This bill was a basic reporting bill,” Mr. Stern said in a press release last year after the proposal was blocked. “We now have to assess whether a bolder, more comprehensive approach is necessary.”

Introduced Feb. 16, SB 1505 is now awaiting assignment to respective committees by the Senate’s Rules Committee.