Delta Air Lines MD-88 jet (file photo)
ATLANTA -- Delta Air Lines would be exempt from paying millions of dollars in T-SPLOST taxes, if the transportation referendum passes July 31st. Delta and other airlines would be exempt from paying the one-cent tax on sales of jet fuel. The exemption is wide ranging, and drawing criticism.
Delta Air Lines' biggest expense is jet fuel. The airline reportedly spent $12 billion on jet fuel last year, much of it at its hub at Hartsfield Jackson Airport. For years, Delta -- like everybody else -- paid taxes on fuel.
But under the T-SPLOST, Delta would be exempt from paying the penny tax on its purchases of jet fuel at Hartsfield-Jackson.
"They're getting an exemption at exactly the same time working families, middle class families are gonna have to pay an extra penny on their groceries and medicine when they go to the grocery store," said Sen. Vincent Ford (D-Atlanta), a T-SPLOST opponent. He called the Delta exemption "particularly aggravating."
Delta's exemption under the T-SPLOST is part of a series of tax breaks the legislature has given Delta. For the last two years, Delta has paid none of the fuel tax it has historically paid -- a tax break its sponsor described as a thank you to Delta for keeping Georgians employed during hard economic times.
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But tax breaks under the proposed T-SPLOST would extend beyond Delta. Under the law, anybody purchasing fuel in metro Atlanta would be exempt from paying the penny sales tax. This includes tractor trailers -- whose shippers would be among those benefiting from many of the referendum's traffic improvement projects.
"There's an irony there, that they're getting a benefit while not paying into the pot," said Sen. Fort.
The transportation package would raise billions of dollars in sales tax money -- while exempting some of the state's biggest sales, in the name of helping business.