We all have to pay taxes. It’s an inescapable fact of life. But how are our taxes used, and by whom? Taxes pay government salaries, fund projects, create infrastructure, and buy equipment. Taxes also pay for where government employees work, and for how they get around. When government workers travel by air on business, they travel in taxpayer-funded aircraft. The question is, is it tax efficient, and is it worth the cost?
In June 2012, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) hired NEXA, an aerospace advisory company, to do a study on the use of business aircraft by the government to find out whether it was truly tax efficient. In it, government officials claim that using business aircraft is essential to running an efficient government. It is a way to transport staff, move cargo, send emergency workers quickly to a site, and is even used by law enforcement. According to the NBAA report, “The aircraft provide taxpayer value by providing public safety and security, more effective government, protecting public health and welfare, facilitating economic growth, improving tax dollar efficiency, promoting good government relations, and improving compliance.”
The big issue at hand here is value. It’s important to look at the cost per person average when doing a value analysis between ground travel and air travel. While it’s cheaper for one person to travel by car, the cost drastically goes up for groups of four or more. Due to the sheer volume of workers that the federal and state governments employ, traveling in larger groups is very common way of doing business. The NBAA study shows that when 8 or more people travel together, going by business aircraft costs nearly half of what it would if traveling by car.
When analyzing the financial value to the taxpayer, it’s clear that the government’s regular use of business aircraft provides budget savings for travel, reduces turnover, increases overall productivity, and adds to local economic development. When your tax dollars help develop local economies through better forms of travel, they are adding to their overall “tax dollar efficiency”. Now, the same can’t be said when government officials use the same aircraft to go on vacations, or make talk show appearances, but nobobdy’s perfect, especially not the federal government. In any case, generally, this creates less wasted spending, which benefits both the taxpayer and the government.
The consensus of this report is that without such heavy government use of business aircraft, our taxes would be significantly higher. It would also greatly slow down, or in some cases, eliminate certain government services. The government is well aware of how beneficial using business aircraft is to their bottom line, but should also be aware of how beneficial this is to us, the common taxpayer. Much like a large corporation, the government is charged with delegating expenses to where they make the most sense. Is there still potential for misusing or wasting taxpayer funds on business aircraft use? Absolutely. But in almost all cases, it’s the most efficient way to travel. And being efficient with your tax dollars is good for all of us.
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