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Press Release


Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Vows Fight Against White House's Airline Tax Grab

For Immediate Release February 10, 2005

(Washington, DC) -- "Enough!" That single word sums up the mood of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which is gearing up for a fight over recent Administration moves to increase inspection and security fees on airlines and their customers. Today NTU appeared with representatives from trade and other organizations to publicly call for a halt to these economically counterproductive policies.

"Federal taxes on air travel were already soaring before the White House began pushing a new round of hikes in the passenger inspection, aircraft inspection, and passenger security fees," said NTU Vice President for Communications Pete Sepp. "It's time to ground this flight from fiscal responsibility before air carriers and travelers are permanently stranded by tax burdens."

Sepp noted that NTU has long sought a complete overhaul of federal fiscal policies in the aviation sector. In addition to opposing increases in the airline ticket excise tax and passenger facility charges, the group has advocated transitioning Air Traffic Control (ATC) to a commercialized system as well as resisted bureaucratization of the Transportation Security Administration.

"At an effective tax rate of more than 25 percent on many value-priced tickets, air travel is one of the most heavily-taxed activities in America today," Sepp observed. "Equally ridiculous, however, is what airlines and their customers get for the billions they're forced to pay the federal government each year: dysfunctional air traffic control and security networks notorious for their resistance to innovation or accountability. Countries like Canada, which have phased in privately-managed ATC systems, should serve as clues to our policymakers that there's a better way."

Most recently NTU's members spoke out against the 61 percent passenger inspection fee increase, which the Department of Agriculture imposed five weeks before the "public comment period" over the new policy even ended (the fee will rise again, to $5.00, by October 1). The latest federal scheme -- a boost in the passenger security fee from $2.50 to $5.50 -- has likewise mobilized NTU members. Elements of the organization's opposition campaign have included interactive e-mail alerts urging citizens to contact executive and legislative branch officials, letters to House and Senate Committee Members who could demand Congressional hearings on the fee hikes, and talk radio appearances in key markets.

"Whether it's $1.5 billion in new security fees or another $100 million-plus each year for additional passenger and aircraft inspection charges, taxpaying travelers have a different figure in mind: not one more penny," Sepp concluded. "Starving airlines in order to feed federal bureaucracies is the wrong diet for America's free market economy."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: Further information on NTU's aviation policy work is available online at www.ntu.org.

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