Kamala Harris Trashes Private Jet Tax Break in GOP Bill That Fellow Democratic Senator Previously Proposed

Sen. Kamala Harris / Getty Images
November 17, 2017

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) on Friday ripped a provision in the Senate Republican tax reform bill that gives a tax break to private airplane owners, not noting that a fellow Democrat proposed a similar idea earlier this year.

The latest version of the Senate GOP bill would "lower taxes on some of the payments made by owners of private aircraft to management companies that help maintain, store, and staff those planes for owners," the Hill reported.

The language would exempt owners or leasers of private aircraft from paying taxes on certain costs related to the upkeep and maintenance of the jets, according to a description from the Joint Committee on Taxation

Harris blasted the provision in the GOP bill on Twitter, linking to a Business Insider article about it and writing, "Retweet if you would *not* benefit from a private jet tax break." Her message has been retweeted more than 14,500 times since she posted it Friday morning.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) introduced such a measure in the form of S.321 on Feb. 7, however. It is entitled, "A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt amounts paid for aircraft management services from the excise taxes imposed on transportation by air."

The same Business Insider article that Harris linked to noted the GOP bill provision's similarities to Brown's bill.

The change appears to be similar to a bill offered by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and cosponsored by GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. A separate bipartisan bill amending the same part of the tax code was also offered in the House.

According to the lawmakers, the excise tax was designed to be imposed on commercial flights rather than "general aviation" flights, like chartered and private planes, but the IRS has been imposing the tax on private-aircraft management firms. This has been a sore spot for chartered-flight management companies for some time.

The bills, and thus the provision, are designed to clarify the types of flights the excise tax will apply to.