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If At First You Don’t Succeed … Tax, Tax Again?

It looks like the latest attempt to raise the Airport Tax on air travelers is having trouble getting off the ground on Capitol Hill. The tax hike, previously rejected by Congresses under Democratic and Republican control, is once again facing opposition among Members of Congress.

U.S. airports want to increase the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) – or Airport Tax – assessed on every ticket by nearly 90 percent. When faced with the idea of including the Airport Tax hike in the FAA Reauthorization bill, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) noted that the last time an effort like this came before Congress they “recognized that passenger airlines and the U.S. economy could not afford these higher taxes and fees.”

Rep. Joyce also noted the airports’ economic health saying, “Given the airport PFC revenue remains strong in 2014 at $2.8 billion, I believe the same is true today.”

The airports are trying to justify the Airport Tax hike by saying they need this money to “modernize” airports, but as Rep Joyce’s comments show, the truth is that the current system of raising airport revenue is working. There is no funding crisis for airport improvement projects.

In 2012, Congress considered and rejected a proposed increase in the PFC cap to $7, which would have cost passengers an additional $2 billion each year. This time around, airports are actually asking for more.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) also took note of the fact that past attempts to raise airport revenue on the backs of passengers, who are already taxed enough, have failed in previous Congresses. “This has already been proposed and frankly rejected a number of times by Congress,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart.

The president of one of the airport associations recently acknowledged that they “have tried for the last 15 years to get an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge,” however “right now we don’t have the votes.”

The traveling public’s overwhelming opposition to the tax hike, combined with the lack of traction among Members of Congress, demonstrates he is right.

A recent survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted by the Terrance Group found that 65 percent of voters consider the PFC a tax despite the best efforts of airport groups to obscure that fact.

It doesn’t stop there. When voters were told the plan airports are supporting would nearly double the PFC and tie automatic future increases to inflation, an astounding 82 percent were opposed to the PFC increase proposal.

With airport associations saying they don’t have the votes, Members of Congress saying they won’t vote for a PFC increase and voters saying they don’t want this tax hike, how can anyone still think this increasing the PFC is a good idea?

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