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Document 1837413
State of California
Board of Equalization
Legal Department-MIC: 83
Office of the Chief Counsel
(916) 445-4380
Fax: (916) 323-3387
Memorandum
To:
Honorable Betty T. Yee, Chairwoman
Honorable Jerome E. Horton
Ms. Barbara Alby, Acting Board Member
Honorable Michelle Steel
Honorable John Chiang
From:
Kristine Cazadd / '
Chief CounselflvL
Subject:
Other Chief Counsel Matters - May 25-26, 2010
Item Number Ml
Request for Authorization to File Amicus Curiae Brief
Date:
April 29, 2010
ua,11d({~
/1' ~
Orange County Superior Court - consolidation ofthefollowingfour cases:
Netjets Aviation Inc. v. Webster J Guillory, Case Number 30-2008-00107805-CU-MC-CJC;
Flight Options LLC v. Webster J Guillory, Case Number 30-2008-0011 0932-CU-MC-CJC;
CitationShares Management LLC v. Joseph E. Holland, Santa Barbara County Assessor, Case
Number 30-2009-00288116-CU-MC-CJC; and
Bombardier Aerospace Corp. v. Joseph E. Holland, Santa Barbara County Assessor, Case
Number 30-2009-00303518-CU-MC-CJC.
(Gov. Code, § 11126(e))
The Legal Department requests the Board's authorization to file an amicus curiae brief in the
above-referenced consolidated local property tax action challenging the fractionally owned
aircraft taxation statutes that were adopted on August 24,2007, and became effective on January
1,2008 (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 1160 et seq.). Santa Barbara County has requested that the
Board of Equalization (Board) file an amicus brief in support of the counties' position in
defending the validity of the statute, the enactment of which the Board supported in 2007.
(See attached letter)
Senate Bill 87, effective January 1, 2008, established, for the first time, a fleet-wide method of
assessment for fractionally owned aircraft, similar to the method already used to assess
commercial aircraft. It expressly provides that a fleet of fractionally owned aircraft operated
pursuant to a fractional aircraft ownership agreement obtains situs in California when any
aircraft within the fleet lands in California. (Rev. & Tax. Code, § 1161, subd. (b).) It also
provides a value allocation or pro rata formula to ensure that the fleet is taxed in a manner
reflecting its actual presence in the state, and in a particular county. Specifically, a fleet of
fractionally owned aircraft is assessed on an allocated basis, and value is apportioned to each
county based on that county's annual share of landings and departures of each aircraft type in
the fleet as a proportion of total annual worldwide landings and departures. (Rev. & Tax. Code,
§ 1161, subd. (c).) Until the enactment of the statute at issue, fractional aircraft owners enjoyed
a tax advantage or "loophole," and consequently, an economic and business advantage that was
not available to commercial carriers.
Item M1
May 25-26, 2010
Honorable Board Members
2
April 29, 2010
Senate Bill 87 included detailed findings that: (1) a substantial portion of business aviation
aircraft is owned and operated under fractional ownership agreements; (2) such fractionallyowned aircraft have a substantial presence in California; (3) taxing such aircraft on an aircraftby-aircraft basis places undue burden on both taxpayers and tax officials; (4) aircraft are
constitutionally required to be taxed; and (5) the proposed assessment of fractionally-owned
aircraft is appropriate and fair, allocates assessed value among counties in a reasonable manner,
and reduces the administrative burden on taxpayers and county assessors. (See attached Bill
Analysis.)
To date, four major fractional aircraft ownership operators (NetJets, Flight Options,
CitationShares, and Bombardier) have filed lawsuits against two counties, Orange County and
Santa Barbara County, all of which have been consolidated into one action in Orange County
Superior Court. The complaints seek declaratory relief under Revenue and Taxation Code
section 4808 (and under the authority of Code of Civil Procedure section 1060, et seq.) that tax
assessments and collections under Revenue and Taxation Code sections 1160-1162 (Senate Bill
87) are illegal and unconstitutional because the statute: (1) imposes liability for personal
property tax on managers in control of the fleet rather than the owners; (2) assesses property tax
based on an entire "fleet" of aircraft even though individual aircraft within the fleet or the
owners may not have established a property tax situs in California; (3) seeks to levy an unlawful
retroactive tax, predating the tax year in which it was enacted; and (4) purports to impose a tax
on aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as fractionally owned,
even though the FAA does not register any aircraft as "fractionally owned." Currently, the
consolidated case is still in the discovery stage. (See attached letter from Deputy County
Counsel.)
The California Assessors' Association has estimated that the statute in question will result in onetime statewide tax revenues on escape assessments of approximately $30-$40 million, which we
understand will apply retroactively to assessment years 2003-2007 (the bill became effective for
the 2007-2008 assessment year). Furthermore, ifupheld, the statute also will result in anticipated
on-going statewide tax revenues of approximately $10-$25 million per year, distributed among the
California counties.
Due to the Board's prior support of the legislation, the significance of the statewide legal issues,
and the materiality of the assessments, we recommend that the Board grant authorization to the
Legal Department to file an amicus brief in this case in both the trial court and, if necessary, the
appellate courts. If you need more information or have any questions, please contact Assistant
Chief Counsel Robert Lambert at (916) 324-6593 or Tax Counsel IV Richard Moon at (949)
440-3486.
Ramon J. Hirsig
Executive Director
KC:kec:gm
J :/LegalAffairs/Litigation/BoardMemos/Sales/StatusClosedOpenSessionOther/CCMatterslAmicus Aircraft Memo.doc
Attachments: (1) Letter from County of Santa Barbara, County Counsel's office dated March
22, 201 0; and (2) Legislative Division's Bill Analysis of Senate Bill 87.
Honorable Board Members
cc:
Mr.
Mr.
Mr.
Mr.
Mr.
Mr.
Mr.
Ramon J. Hirsig
David Gau
Robert Lambert
Randy Ferris
Dean Kinnee
Todd Gilman
Richard Moon
3
MIC:
MIC:
MIC:
MIC:
MIC:
MIC:
MIC:
73
63
82
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82
April 29, 2010
COUNTY OF SANTABARBARA
105 East Anapamu Street
Suite 201
Santa Barbara, CA 9310 I
Telephone: (805) 568-2950
FAX: (805) 568-2982
Dennis Marshall
County Counsel
Marie A. LaSala
Deputy County Counsel
COUNTY COUNSEL
March 22, 2010
Via Electronic and U. S. Mail
Robeli W. Lambert
Assistant Chief Counsel
Litigation Division/Legal Department
State Board of Equalization
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279
Re: CitationShares Management, LLC v. Joseph E. Holland, Santa Barbara County
Assessor, Orange Superior Court Case No. 30-2008-00107805, [Consolidated with
Orange County Superior Court Case Nos. 30-2008-00107805,30-2008-00110932
and 30-2009-00303518]
Dear Mr. Lambert:
As counsel for the Assessor for the County of Santa Barbara, I ask that you consider this
request for amicus support in the ongoing fractionally owned aircraft litigation. All four of the
consolidated cases identified above will be heard by Judge William Monroe in Department C16
of Orange County Superior Court.
Background
Fractional owned aircraft companies have evolved over the last two decades to cater to
clients with enough resources to buy a share of a private jet. In the "fractional jet" industry,
owners buy anywhere from one-16th to half ownership of a jet and share it with other co-owners.
Fractional owners also pay monthly management fees to the operating company, as well as fuel
and other in-flight costs. These owners don't necessarily always fly on the plane they own; if
their plane is in use, the company will provide another similar plane.
Full owners of private planes, as well as commercial airline companies, have long paid
property taxes on their planes, but until now California had not come up with a method oftaxing
the fractional plane owners. The mix of ownership interests and the unscheduled usage made it
practically impossible to assess and tax these fleets on an aircraft-by-aircraft basis.
Mr. Lambert
March 22, 2010
Page 2
To date, no other state has been able to successfully tax these companies and they are
very proud of that fact. The non-taxation of these aircraft creates a very unequal playing-field
between the fractional-operators and the large commercial carriers such as Delta, United and
American etc. who properly pay their taxes.
To address this problem, Revenue and Taxation Code sections 1160-1162 were enacted
in 2008. The new law applies a fleet-wide method of assessment similar to the method already
used to assess commercial aircraft. It imposes a 1 percent tax on the value of a fractionally
owned fleet based on the number of takeoffs and landings the fleet makes in California
Fractional Aircraft Litigation
The four major fractionally owned aircraft companies (NetJets, Flight Options,
CitationShares and Bombardier) filed declaratory relief lawsuits in 2009 to challenge the
constitutionality of the new law. Two of the lawsuits were filed in Santa Barbara County and
two were filed in Orange County. Pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 4808, the
named respondent in each lawsuit is the County assessor. All four lawsuits have been
consolidated and are cUlTently pending in Orange County Superior Court.
The goal of the consolidated lawsuits is to invalidate Revenue & Taxation Code sections 1160 1162. Those statutes provide new methodology for the assessment of fractionally owned aircraft
and also allow assessors to file escape assessments retroactively for 4 years. The California
Assessors' Association has estimated the one-time lump sum for escape assessments to be
between $30 - $40 million. The on-going annual revenue will be $10 to $25 million allocated
among California counties based on the number of takeoffs and landings for each fleet in each
respective county.
Santa Barbara's Allocation of Tax Revenue
Santa Barbara's allocated portion of the Taxable Value for the fractionally owned fleets is
small because fractionally owned aircraft make relatively few takeoffs and landings in this
county. However, since two of the lawsuits were filed in Santa Barbara County, our county
(with the assistance of Orange County) is defending this case on behalf of all California counties.
Relevant Litigation Dates
Mar. 31,2010
Discovery/Motion Cut-Off
Apr. 01,2010
Initial Expert Witness Disclosures
Apr. 30, 2010
Supplemental Expert Witness Disclosures
May 28, 2010:
Deadline to complete all expert depositions
Jun. 07,2010:
Plaintiffs' deadline to file and serve dispositive motions
Mr. Lambert
March 22, 2010
Page 2
Jul. 05,2010:
Defendant Assessors' deadline to file and serve oppositions
Jul. 19,2010:
Plaintiffs' deadline to file and serve replies
Aug.06, 2010:
Hearing on dispositive motions [9:30 am Dept C16]
Thank you for our consideration. If you have any questions regarding this litigation
please fee free to contact me.
Best regards,
DENNIS A. MARSHALL
COUN=0U;;;JJ~
~Lasala
Deputy County Counsel
MLS/cd
cc: Rick Holly, Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder-Assessor
Joseph E. Holland, Clerk-Recorder-Assessor
James Harman, Supervising Deputy County Counsel
G:\CC\Case Files\General Litigation Division\Aircratl Taxation Cases\Correspondence\Ltr to BOE re amicus.doc
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
STAFF LEGISLATIVE BILL ANALYSIS
Date Amended:
07/19/07
Bill No:
SB87
Tax:
Property
Sales and Use
Author:
Committee on
Budget and Fiscal
Review
Related Bills:
SB 77 (Budget Committee)
Position:
Support
BILL SUMMARY
This Budget trailer bill makes changes necessary to implement the Budget Act of 2007.
This bill, among other things unrelated to the Board, does the following:
•
Establishes streamlined property tax administration procedures to use in the
assessment of fractionally owned aircraft using a centralized approach whereby
the manager in control of the aircraft fleet would file a single property statement
with a designated "lead" county. It also provides for coordinated multi-county
audits.
•
Requires annual business property statements filed with county assessors for
property tax purposes to include information about the use tax, as specified.
ANALYSIS
Fractionally Owned Aircraft
Adds Article 7 (commencing with Section 1160) of Chapter 5 of Part 2 of Division 1 to
the Revenue and Taxation Code
Amends Revenue and Taxation Code §441 and §5368
CURRENT LAW
Personal Property. Article XIII, Section 1 of the California Constitution provides that all
property is taxable unless otherwise exempt by the state constitution or the laws of the
United States. Section 2 thereof provides that the Legislature may, two-thirds of the
membership of each house concurring, classify any personal property for differential
taxation or for exemption. Revenue and Taxation Code Section 405 1 requires the
assessor to assess all taxable property in the county and the assessor may assess the
property to the person either owning or controlling the property.
Situs. In a well-established line of cases, the United States Supreme Court has held
that personal property involved in interstate travel or commerce, such as an aircraft,
may be subject to taxation by any state or states (or their political subdivisions) in which
the property maintains a substantial presence. As a necessary precondition to the
taxing power of a state or subdivision, the constitutional principle of due process
requires that the property receive the "opportunities, benefits, and protections" of the
taxing jurisdiction by reason of its "habitual or continuous" presence in that jurisdiction.
Property may have substantial contact with two or more states sufficient to establish a
taxable situs in each of those states. If two or more states acquire the power to tax
certain property owing to the property's having acquired tax situs in their states,
constitutional principles relative to interstate commerce require that each state impose
1
All statutory references are to the Revenue and Taxation Code unless otherwise specified.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
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Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 2
such a tax only on a nondiscriminatory basis. That is, each state may impose a tax only
in proportion to the "opportunities, benefits and protections" that it affords to the
property. Apportionment ensures that property is not subjected to a greater tax burden
by reason of its substantial presence in more than one state.
Thus, when property has situs in California but has its permanent or primary situs in
another state or country, it is taxable here only to the extent of time spent in California.
Consequently, taxation of aircraft may require value apportionment.
General Aviation Aircraft and Certificated Aircraft. Currently, there are no special
assessment provisions for fractionally owned aircraft used in Fractional Ownership
Programs that are using California airports. The Revenue and Taxation Code contains
separate provisions of law related to the taxation of aircraft depending upon one of two
types of traditional ownership and use: (1) general aircraft and (2) certificated aircraft.
Typically, "certificated aircraft" are commercial aircraft operated by air carriers for
passenger or freight service, while "general aircraft" are typically privately owned
aircraft, such an aircraft kept at a hangar at a local airport. General aircraft are
assessed on an aircraft by aircraft basis and an assessment is made only in a single
county where the aircraft is habitually situated - even if the aircraft routinely uses other
airports in other counties in the state. Certificated aircraft are assessed based on a
"fleet basis" and assessments are made for each county in which the aircraft in the fleet
land.
Under current law fractionally owned aircraft that have acquired taxable situs in
California would be assessed under the provisions for general aircraft. However, in
actual practice, fractionally owned aircraft are a new form of ownership and these
aircraft have not yet been assessed in California. Essentially, the business model of
fractional ownership programs is a hybrid of general and commercial aviation.
The provisions for general aircraft are contained in Part 10 (commencing with Section
5301) of Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. The provisions for certificated
aircraft are contained in Article 6 (commencing with Section 1150) of Chapter 5 of Part 2
of Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Additionally, streamlined centralized
assessment provisions have been provided for certificated aircraft in Section 441 (I)
which allows commercial air carriers to file a single property statement for all their
holdings with a lead county and provides for centralized audits.
Mandatory Audits. Section 469 requires assessors to audit the personal property
holdings of any property owner with an assessed value of more than $400,000 once
every four years. These audits are commonly referred to as "mandatory audits."
Information from Airport Operators - Home Based Aircraft. Section 5366 requires
airport operators to provide the local county assessor with specified information about
aircraft owners that use the airport as a base by January 15 of each year.
PROPOSED
Law
This bill would add Article 7 (commencing with Section 1160) to Chapter 5 of Part 2 of
Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Article 7 would be entitled "Fractionally
Owned Aircraft" and would follow Article 6 related to the assessment of certificated
aircraft. Article 7 together with an amendment to Section 441 and cross references to
sections of code within Part 10's provisions for general aircraft would establish the
administrative procedures to use in assessing fractionally owned aircraft that use
airports in California. The administrative procedure would be a hybrid of provisions for
general aircraft and the simplified centralized system used for certificated aircraft as well
as the fleet concept used for certificated aircraft.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to r~flect or sUf(f(est the Board's formal position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 3
This bill includes detailed findings stating that: (1) a substantial portion of business
aviation aircraft is now owned and operated under fractional ownership programs, (2)
the aircraft in the programs have a substantial presence in California, (3) taxing these
aircraft on an aircraft-by aircraft basis would be a burden for both taxpayers and tax
officials warranting simplification, (4) the aircraft are constitutionally required to be
taxed, and (5) the proposed simplified procedure is appropriate and fair, allocates
assessed value among counties in a reasonable manner and reduces the administrative
burden on taxpayers and county assessors.
This bill specifically provides the following:
Situs. Expressly provides that a fleet of fractionally owned aircraft operated in a
fractional aircraft ownership program obtains situs in California when an aircraft within
the fleet lands in California. With respect to ensuring the fleet are taxed in a manner
that will reflect their actual presence in California, the bill provides a value allocation
formula based upon the presence of aircraft in California, as specified.
Centralized Administrative System. Implements a centralized administrative system
by outlining the process for selecting the lead county for each fractionally owned aircraft
program, notifying the manager of the responsible lead county to which it would file its
information, and detailing the duties of the lead county.
Consolidated Property Statement. Provides that the manager in control of a fleet of
fractionally owned aircraft; file a single property statement with a designated "lead"
county. Flight data included in the statement would be required to be segregated by
airport.
Centralized Fleet Valuation. The lead county would calculate the unallocated fleet
value of aircraft operated in the fractional ownership program for each make, model,
and series. This information would then be transmitted to the other counties.
Value Standard. The value of the aircraft within the fleet would be valued the same as
general aircraft. That is, current market value using commercially available aircraft price
guides approved by the Board.
Value Allocation. Each individual county would then determine their allocated portion
of the total fleet value based on the flight data for that particular county. The formula,
based upon the number of landings in, and departures from, a county in proportion to
landings and departures worldwide. Each county assessor is responsible for assessing
and enrolling the taxable value of the aircraft that has situs in his or her county.
Assessments. Provides that the fleet be assessed to the manager in control of the
fleet.
Applicable Years. These provisions would apply beginning with fiscal years 2007-08.
However, for fractionally owned aircraft that have not been previously assessed the
provisions could apply for preceeding fiscal years, as specified.
Mandatory Audits - One Coordinated Audit. The lead county would head up an audit
team of up to three counties. The audit would be deemed to be made on behalf of all
California counties that would otherwise be required to perform a mandatory audit under
Section 469
Information from Airport Operators - Aircraft using Facilities. This bill would add
Section 5386 to require airport operators, upon an assessor's request, to provide
information related to the aircraft that uses the airport facilities.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues)' it ;fj ]'!f)! ~(t be c(mS,fr.1,7en to r!!;flf'f'( I1J'f;'!-1gges.f the BO!R,rd'sforma! position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 4
IN GENERAL
General Aviation Aircraft. Existing property tax law requires that aircraft, other than
certificated aircraft, be valued and assessed only in the county in which it is habitually
situated. General aircraft is annually reassessed each year at its current fair market
value on the lien date. In valuing aircraft, the Board, pursuant to Section 5364, approves
and recommends the use of certain commercially available aircraft valuation guides.
These guides ensure uniformity in the valuation of aircraft in California for property tax
purposes. The Board officially adopted two commercially available aircraft price guides
for use when estimating the value of general aircraft: Aircraft Bluebook-Price Digest is
the primary guide for valuing general aircraft, while the Vref Aircraft Value Reference is
the alternate guide for aircraft not listed in the Aircraft Bluebook.
Certificated Aircraft. Certificated aircraft used by air carriers is subject to taxation
when in revenue service in California. Generally, certificated aircraft are commercial
aircraft operated by air carriers for passenger or freight service. Certificated aircraft are
valued for purposes of property taxation under a "fleet" concept. This means that the
basis of the assessed value is not the value of any single aircraft owned by an air
carrier, but rather the value of all aircraft of each particular fleet type 2 (i.e., all aircraft
owned of an identical make and model regardless of age) that is flown into the state.
Aircraft fly in and out of the state; no single or particular aircraft remains located in the
state on a permanent basis. Under the "fleet" concept, the types of aircraft that have
gained situs in California by their entry into revenue service are valued as a fleet and
then only an allocated portion of the entire value of the fleet is ultimately taxed to reflect
actual presence in California.
The Fleet Concept - Example. An individual air carrier, Blue Sky Airlines, for example,
may operate the following types of aircraft in its overall fleet: Boeing 737-300s and 737500s, Boeing 747-400s, and Boeing 767-200s and 767-300s. Each of these types of
aircraft are considered to be a fleet type. Thus, Blue Sky Airlines may have a fleet of
100 Boeing 737-500s, but only 30 of those aircraft may actually make contact in
Sacramento County during the year. For purposes of property taxation in Sacramento
County, the full cash value of all 100 of Blue Sky Airline's Boeing 737-500 aircraft is
determined and the computed allocation ratio is applied to that value.
Valuation and Apportionment. Section 401.17 details the assessment methodology
for determining the market value of certificated aircraft owned by commercial air carriers
to be used for the 2005 through 2010 assessment years. (Section 401.15 details the
methodology that was used for the 1997 through 2004 years) and Section 1152
provides an allocation formula to determine the frequency and the amount of time that
an air carrier's aircraft makes contact and maintains situs within a county. Property Tax
Rule 202, subdivision (c) provides further details in the allocation procedure. An
allocation ratio is made up of two components: a ground and flight time factor, which
accounts for 75% of the ratio, and an arrivals-and-departures factor, which accounts for
25% of the ratio. The sum of these two factors yields the allocation ratio, which is
applied to the full cash value of a fleet of a particular type of aircraft operated by an air
carrier and, thus, the calculation of the assessed value for that type of aircraft. The sum
of the assessed allocated values for each make and model used by an air carrier,
results in the total assessed value of the aircraft for that air carrier for a particular
county.
2 Types are grouped by make and model. For example, Boeing 737-3005 and 737-5005, Boeing 7474005; Airbus A300-F4-600S; and McDonnnel Douglas DC 10-305.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or sUl(l(est the Board's formal position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 5
Centralized Assessment Procedures. Beginning in 2006, legislation established
centralized assessment procedures for certificated aircraft. Section 441 (I) provides a
centralized system for commercial air carriers to file one annual property statement with
a designated "lead" county for certificated aircraft as well as other personal property and
real property fixtures located at airport locations. Additionally, Section 1153.5 provides
for a coordinated multi-county audit team to perform mandatory audits of commercial air
carriers. (AB 964, Ch. 699, Stats. 2005)
COMMENTS
1. Sponsor and purpose. This a budget trailer bill. The purpose of this provision is to
establish a simplified procedure for assessing fractionally owned aircraft that is
appropriate and fair, that allocates assessed value among counties in a reasonable
manner, and that reduces the administrative burden on taxpayers and county
assessors.
2. Budget Bill Appropriation related to the assessment of fractionally owned
aircraft. The Budget Bill provides $3,500,000 in one time grants to county assessors
(Item 9210-107-0001, page 728) if the Department of Finance determines that at
least $30,000,000 in assessments has resulted from the assessment of fractionally
owned aircraft fleets.
3. What are Fractionally Owned Aircraft? Fractionally owned aircraft, as defined by
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are aircraft that are privately owned and
operated pursuant to FAA regulations for operations in Fractional Ownership
Programs. Essentially these are fleets of aircraft that are managed and maintained
by an operating company but ownership is distributed like a time-share. Participants
in the programs have on demand, random access to aircraft in the program.
Fractional ownership of aircraft is an overall concept using (1) shared ownership, (2)
exchange of "dry leases" which allows the exchange of aircraft between owners in
the program, and (3) the use of an aircraft management company.
The
management company handles all operating requirements of the aircraft, including
availability, maintenance, billing, shareowner usage, training, and flight crews. The
National Business Aviation Association estimates that 1,200 fractionally owned
aircraft operate in the United States with approximately 10,000 individual owners or
"shareholders."
4. Fractional Aircraft Ownership Programs are an emerging commercial aviation
industry that has rapidly expanded in the last 10 years and will likely continue
to grow. Existing law requires that the aircraft be taxed using the provisions for
general aircraft. But the assessment of these aircraft does not fit well into a body of
law set up for traditional forms of aircraft ownership and use.
It would be
administratively impractical to use these particular sections of law. Furthermore, the
revenues would likely be dedicated to one county in California (the one particular
airport most often used) rather than shared among the counties.
5. This bill would create a new body of law to address these specific types of
aircraft. Fractionally owned aircraft are relatively new, and assessment has
generally been deferred by the counties pending approval of the streamlined
approach that also resolves the administrative difficulties.
6. A centralized administrative system. The central assessment of these aircraft
would result in administrative efficiencies for both fractional ownership programs and
counties. This bill uses elements of the recently enacted streamlined administrative
approach for certificated aircraft owned by commercial airlines: one-stop reporting,
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is nr.! to. e ,non <;tm(', f.? rpf1?,.~t rrr S!f.'l?;?e t thoe E ';[J.;>,d'. formfll position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 6
the lead county concept, and coordinated audits. It also borrows from the "fleet
concept" used for assessing certificated aircraft, whereby the entire fleet is valued
and then only an allocated portion of the entire value of the fleet is ultimately taxed
to reflect presence in California and the individual counties within California.
7. Revenue distribution - sharing California's portion of allocated value among
the counties.
The value allocation between counties within the state would be
more similar to that used for certificated aircraft than general aircraft. Specifically,
value would be apportioned to each county based on that county's annual share of
landings and takeoffs of each aircraft type in the fleet as a proportional of total
annual worldwide landings. With general aircraft, value is allocated to a single
county.
8. Supporters note that fractional ownership programs are currently enjoying a
competitive advantage.
Both charter operators of aircraft located at airports
based in California or that habitually use California airports and aircraft owned by
commercial airlines using California airports are subject to property tax. Both of
these commercial sectors are losing customers to the fractional ownership
programs.
9. Various terms used in the bill would benefit from expansion and clarification
to avoid implementation uncertainties and the creation of opportunities to
restructure the ownership programs to avoid assessment under the proposed
provisions.
•
This bill expressly provides that the fleet will be assessed to the "manager in
control of the fleet" but the phrase is not defined. Providing a definition of this
term would be beneficial.
•
It would also be beneficial to specify the circumstances under which an aircraft is
"operated" by a manager for purposes of determining the composition of specific
fleets.
•
While the bill states that a "notice of assessment" will be "issued" to the manager
in control of a fleet, it does not expressly state that the "notice" will ultimately
result in a property tax assessment resulting in a property tax liability that,
presumably, the bill intends for the manager to pay the taxes on behalf of the
fractional owners.
Use Tax and the Business Personal Property Tax
Revenue and Taxation Code §452
CURRENT
LAw
Use Tax. Under the existing Use Tax Law, Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 6201)
of Part 1 of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, a use tax is imposed on the
storage, use, or other consumption in this state of tangible personal property purchased
from any retailer. The use tax is imposed on the purchaser, and unless that purchaser
pays the use tax to a retailer registered to collect the California use tax, the purchaser is
liable for the tax, unless the use of that property is specifically exempted or excluded
from tax. The use tax is the same rate as the sales tax and is required to be remitted to
the Board on or before the last day of the month following the quarterly period in which
the purchase was made, or to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) via the income tax return.
A use tax liability is primarily a result of a California consumer or business making a
purchase of an item for their own use from an out-of-state retailer that is not registered
with the Board to collect the use tax.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or su~~est the Board's formal position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 7
Business Personal Property Tax. Under existing property tax laws, an ad valorem tax
is imposed every year on all assessable personal property used in a trade or business
at its current fair market value. In making this annual assessment, taxpayers typically
report the cost of their property holdings to the local county assessor on the "business
property statement" as provided for in Section 441. The business property statement
shows all taxable property, both real and personal, owned, claimed, possessed,
controlled, or managed by the person filing the property statement. When the
aggregate cost of the taxable personal property is $100,000 or more, the person is
required to file a business property statement, signed under penalty of perjury, each
year with the assessor.
Section 452 requires the Board to prescribe the content and detail of the business
property statement used by assessors. Section 452 specifies that the property
statement shall not include any question that is not germane to the assessment function
and Section 451 requires the assessor to hold secret the information furnished in the
statement.
PROPOSED LAW
This bill would amend Section 452 to require the Board to include in the business
property statement it prescribes for the use of local county assessors:
•
A brief statement about the obligation to pay use tax on taxable purchases if
sales tax was not applicable.
•
Information about how to pay use tax, which could be limited to the Board's
phone number and web address where additional information and use tax returns
could be accessed.
•
A statement advising the taxpayer that information provided on the business
property tax statement may be shared with the Board.
This bill also specifies that the Board is to implement these requirements in a manner
that does not increase local costs.
BACKGROUND
The collection of use tax relies heavily on the voluntary compliance of purchasers of
tangible personal property. However, due to the general misconception that purchases
from outside this state are "tax free" and that audit resources are insufficient to pursue
all purchasers, the voluntary compliance rate has been very low. Untaxed purchases
from out of state retailers is the largest area of non-compliance the Board's audit staff
encounters.
The Board is the state agency responsible for administering the provisions of the use
tax.
However, in an effort to increase voluntary compliance by purchasers not
registered with the Board, legislation enacted in 2003, SB 1009, (Alpert, Ch. 718)
requires the FTB to add a line to the state's income tax forms allowing taxpayers to selfreport their use tax liabilities to the FTB.
In 2005, two bills were introduced in the Legislature, AB 911 (Chu) and AB 1618
(Klehs), to require business property statements filed with county assessors for property
tax purposes to include information regarding the use tax on acquisitions of property
identified on the statements. Neither bill was ultimately enacted with this provision.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
i.~S'$e5; it ,f!; rvJf 10 be {'on.(i!rw':! tr rf!:f1,o.ct ('," sUrige,'Jt t ,c Boord'sformaf position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 8
This year's proposed Budget Bill for 2007-08, SB 77 (Ducheny), provides $400,000 for
the Board to (1) contract with up to three selected county assessors offices on a pilot
basis to include with their business property statements an additional message from the
Board explaining the obligation to pay use tax on nonexempt purchases if sales tax was
not paid and to provide, in electronic form, data to the Board from the business property
statements on recent equipment purchases by businesses, and (2) for the Board to
conduct discovery audits for the primary purpose of determining whether the problem of
nonpayment of use tax by businesses is significant and to determine, if feasible, areas
with the greatest noncompliance (for example, by type of business, size, or geographic
area). The Board may seek the assistance of the selected county assessors in selecting
and identifying businesses for potential discovery audits.
COMMENTS
1. Purpose. The purpose of this provision is to use the annual business property tax
statement as an outreach tool in an effort to increase use tax education and
compliance.
2. Budget Bill Appropriation related to the business property statements and the
use tax. The Budget Bill provides $400,000 to the Board (Item 0860-001-0001) to
contract with up to three local county assessors in a pilot project to provide
electronic information from business property statements filed with those assessors
that identify businesses with recent equipment purchases and for the Board to
conduct discovery audits with a use tax emphasis.
3. Enactment of this bill would "get the word out." Collecting use tax relies heavily
on voluntary compliance. This bill would assist in informing and advising those
taxpayers most likely to be incurring a greater portion of use tax liabilities (i.e., those
with tangible personal property holdings in excess of $100,000 that are used in a
trade or business) of their use tax responsibilities under the law. It would also
enable the Board and county assessors to share the information obtained from the
business property statements to facilitate administration of the tax laws.
4. Business Property Statements. Proponents of closing the use tax gap have noted
that local county assessors receive annual property tax statements from businesses
related to their personal property holdings that could be used as a data mining
source. However, in its present form, the business property statement is not a
useful discovery tool. Taxpayers report their personal property holdings by year of
acquisition in lump sum amounts that are broken down by a few broad category
types. In addition, there are issues with the confidentiality of these property
statements as well as their use for other tax purposes, which this bill would
expressly address.
5. Administrative efficiencies in using an existing taxpayer base. Proponents note
that the annual contact that assessors already have with businesses that own
tangible personal property at the local level could be a cost effective means to
educate and obtain voluntary use tax remittance from businesses as well as provide
use tax leads for the Board to pursue.
6. State and local government partnership and cooperation to facilitate
administration of the tax laws and possible enhanced revenues. The Board is
the state agency responsible for administering the provisions of the use tax.
However, local governments would receive a share of previously uncollected use tax
as well as an increase in property tax revenues that may result due to the
educational outreach that will occur with the business property statement.
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or sUf(f(est the Board's formal position
Senate Bill 87 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)
Page 9
COST ESTIMATE
Costs associated with this bill related to the fractional aircraft provisions are expected to
be absorbable. Additionally, with respect to the use tax provisions, the Budget Act
includes $400,000 to contract with the assessors and perform discovery audits.
REVENUE ESTIMATE
Background, Methodology, and Assumptions
The Los Angeles County Assessor's office prepared an estimate of assessable value for
fractionally owned aircrafts covering calendars years 2002-2006.
The Los Angeles
County Assessor estimates that the annual revenue from assessments on fractional
aircraft totaled $3.2 million in 2006. Aircrafts operating in the County of Los Angeles
represents one-third of the total assessed value on aircrafts operating in California.
Therefore, we estimate that this bill would provide $9.6 million in annual property tax
revenue in California beginning in fiscal year 2007-08. In addition, for fractionally
owned aircraft that have not been annually assessed during the four fiscal years prior to
fiscal year 2007-08, assessment under this bill applies to those fiscal years for which an
assessment was not made. Based on information provided by the Los Angeles County
Assessor's office, we estimate that for prior fiscal years, this bill would provide $37.8
million in statewide property tax revenue from prior fiscal years for which an assessment
was not made.
Revenue Summary
Fractionally Owned Aircraft. Beginning in fiscal year 2007-08, the annual statewide
property tax revenue from assessments on fractionally owned aircrafts would amount to
$9.6 million.
Additionally, with respect to prior fiscal years for which an assessment was not made,
the revenues would amount to $37.8 million in statewide property tax revenue.
Use Tax. With respect to the use tax provisions of this bill, it is anticipated that this bill
could increase state and local revenues by an unknown amount.
Analysis prepared by:
Revenue by:
Contact:
Is
Rose Marie Kinnee
Bill Benson
Margaret S. Shedd
916-445-6777
916-445-0840
916-322-2376
08/09/07
0087-1 rk.doc
This staffanalysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; i is not to be o:mstru d.o reflect o,r StWP,r.st t e Roard's(ormal. osition
Fly UP