2.02 Commercial Aircraft

The state tax consequences can vary depending on whether the aircraft is considered a commercial or noncommercial aircraft.

In defining commercial aircraft, many states have adopted the terminology used in the Federal Aviation Regulations:

However, the tax laws do not necessarily follow the FAA definition.2 Some state taxes define a commercial aircraft by reference to weight. In other cases, the term can apply to aircraft operations which are not treated as commercial operations under the FARs.3 This means that a flight conducted under FAR Part 91.501, such as a timeshare or interchange, might still be considered commercial for state tax purposes.

  1. See, e.g., Fla. Law 212.08(7)(rr) [sales tax- "As used in this paragraph, 'common carrier' means an airline operating under Federal Aviation Administration regulations contained in Title 14, chapter I, part 121 or part 129 of the Code of Federal Regulations."
  2. See, e.g., Ark. Law 26-52-301(c)(vi) [sales tax- "The term 'commercial jet aircraft' shall mean any commercial, military, private or other turbine or turbo jet aircraft having a certified maximum take-off weight of more than 12,500 pounds."]; Mo. Law 155.010 [property tax- " 'Commercial aircraft', aircraft fully equipped for flight and of more than ten thousand pounds maximum certified gross take-off weight."].
  3. See, e.g., Florida Growers Coop. Transport v. Department of Revenue, 273 So.2d 142 (Fla. App.) [sales tax exemption applied to Coop, which was exemption from certification under the FARs].