Air travel just got more expensive. Beginning July 21, the passenger security tax rose for all air travelers. The White House is ignoring the intent of Congress and will increase taxes by as much as 236 percent, depending on the passenger’s itinerary.
Since its creation, the September 11 Security Fee that passengers have paid was assessed on a per-enplanement basis and capped at a maximum of $5 for a one-way trip (maximum 2 enplanements) or $10 for a round-trip (maximum 4 enplanements) itinerary. Last year, as part of the bipartisan budget deal to reduce the deficit, Congress simplified the fee structure by creating a flat $5.60 fee per one-way trip regardless of the number of enplanements. Congress made this change against the backdrop of the existing round trip cap and expected it to remain in place.
Seizing the opportunity for a revenue windfall, The Administration didn’t waste any time figuring out how to raise as much money as possible from air travelers. The Department of Homeland Security omitted the existing cap when it published the rules on the new fares. Without a cap, passengers may incur a dramatic increase over what they paid in the past. One of government's own examples showed a multi-stop itinerary with security taxes totaling a shocking $33.60.
Speaker Boehner, the authors of the bipartisan budget agreement – Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan – and many others in Congress have informed the Obama Administration that they did not intend to remove the caps. The Administration has rejected this advice, however, and consumers will literally pay the price as a result.
Unfortunately, air travelers are all too familiar with excessive taxation and an unsympathetic government. Commercial aviation and its customers pay up to 17 different aviation taxes and fees, totaling more than $19 billion in FY 2013. Nearly $63, or 21 percent, of a typical $300 round-trip ticket is actually federal taxes and fees.
Reinstituting the cap on the passenger security taxes will help rein in a federal agency that is defying congressional intent and protect passengers, particularly those from small or rural communities, who often fly multiple segments for one-way trips, from an unjustified and unauthorized fee increase.
The Administration's new tax scheme is just the latest in a series of efforts by the federal government to raise revenue on the backs of air travelers. Congress has the opportunity, not to mention the obligation, to reverse the tide. An already overtaxed public hopes they rise to the occasion and say, for all of us, enough is enough.
10 Reasons Why the Administration's Passenger Security Tax Hike is Bad
Airlines and their customers already pay more than their fair share in taxes
The Administration is ignoring the intent of Congress and will increase taxes by as much as 124 percent, depending on the passenger’s itinerary.
To mark this dubious event, here are 10 reasons why the new passenger security tax hike is bad for airline customers and bad for the economy at-large:
- Thanks to the passenger security tax hike, 21% - or $63 - of a typical $300 ticket now goes to Uncle Sam.
- Consumers with multiple stops could face enormous costs for each leg of their itinerary. TSA offers an example of a multi-stop trip with security taxes totaling a shocking $33.60!
- Several key lawmakers including Speaker Boehner, Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan and travel consumer advocates have written to Obama officials restating that Congress never intended to remove the cap, but the Administration rejected the advice.
- In total, passengers will end up paying well over a billion dollars more per year in taxes.
- An increase in security taxes disproportionately hurts lower-income flyers.
- Commercial aviation and its customers already pay 17 different aviation taxes and fees, totaling more than $19 billion in 2013.
- Taxes have soared 49% while base fares have dropped 8% (from 2000-2013)
- The new funding will go primarily to reducing the federal deficit and not security.
- Taxes on airlines and their customers have skyrocketed by 400 percent over the past two decades.
- The excessive passenger security tax increase doesn't only harm travelers. It also put at risk some of the 11 million U.S. jobs driven by commercial aviation.