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NTU endorses H.R. 4156, the "Transparent Airfares Act of 2014."

April 10, 2014

Chairman Bill Shuster
United States House of Representatives
2209 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Tom Graves
United States House of Representatives
432 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 

Dear Chairman Shuster and Representative Graves:

        On behalf of the 362,000 members of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write to endorse H.R. 4156, the “Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.” This legislation would repeal a 2012 Department of Transportation ruling that requires airlines to aggregate federal taxes and fees in the total advertised airfare price and in doing so, masks the growing financial burden Washington imposes on air travel.

       With a few exceptions, consumer goods are typically advertised at a base price with taxes and fees added at the point of purchase. Forcing an industry to deviate from this norm has less to do with any perception of “fairness” and more to do with hiding the true cost of overly burdensome taxes. Indeed, if consumers understood the true scale of additional government-imposed expenses that comes on top of base airfares, they would be appalled.

       Air travelers can be subject to 17 different federal taxes and fees including a passenger ticket tax, a flight segment tax, fuel taxes, and many others. On an average domestic flight, some of these taxes can comprise up to 20 percent of the total price. And it’s about to get worse – in July the TSA security tax will double thanks to a provision in the Ryan-Murray budget deal. Although some have claimed this is a fee and not a tax, the underlying problem is clear: airlines should not be forced to conceal these added costs from consumers. When taxes and fees are hidden to avoid scrutiny from those footing the bill, it is easy for elected officials to treat those revenues as a “slush fund” rather than dedicating the revenue to its stated purpose.

      Unfortunately, these types of cash grabs come at real cost to both consumers and the afflicted industry. In the case of airlines, heavier overhead imposed by government can dampen demand and undermine economic growth in an industry already plagued by increased fuel and labor costs as well as regulatory issues. Washington’s insatiable demand for tax dollars shouldn’t exacerbate airlines’ woes.

      Americans have the right to know just how much of their airfare is going straight to the Treasury. Transparency is the key to increasing consumer awareness and reining in excessive costs.  NTU is pleased to endorse the “Transparent Airfares Act of 2014” and urges all Representatives to cosponsor this legislation.


Nan Swift
Federal Affairs Manager