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Raise the tax on airplanes

Cumberland County supervisors, through the recommended fiscal 2016-17 budget from County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Seay Giles, are doing the right thing in considering raising the personal property tax rate on airplanes.

They should approve her recommendation.

The proposed increase from 50 cents per $100 of assessed value to $1.50 would bring in about $10,000 more revenue for the county annually. There’s no question that the additional money is needed for the upcoming budget.

In our view, there’s a huge difference between raising taxes on other property, such as land and vehicles, and raising the rates on airplanes.

Having an airplane is a luxury, not a need. Vehicles, and real estate, to a certain extent, are needs.

Rather than tax those who may not be able to stomach the increase, supervisors are looking to those who can at the airport.

The tax on airplanes is a leisure tax, such as those levied on cigarettes or alcohol. The revenues come from either those who choose to take part in non-essential activities or those who are more able to pay the tax, such as those who own airplanes.

The Farmville Regional Airport is located in southern Cumberland and houses about 26 airplanes.

“As a matter of equity, an increase in the airplane rate is long overdue,” said District Two Representative and Board Chairman Lloyd Banks. “This rate is likely to increase annually until it is aligned with other forms of personal property.”

There’s no question that the rate should be increased. Those who own airplanes and have the money to maintain and fuel them surely have the funds to pay more taxes on them.

There’s also no question that the airport is a valuable asset to the town of Farmville and the county of Cumberland in terms of economic impact and town and county revenues. Both localities should understand that working together can only enhance this asset for the residents of the county and the town.