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AGO 1956 No. 300 - July 13, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


New owner registering used aircraft in this state after March 31, entitled to excise tax reduction even though plane had at some prior time been registered by former owner.

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                                                                    July 13, 1956

Honorable Robert L. Nuber
Washington State Aeronautics Commission
6134 Arcade Building
Seattle 1, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 300

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following question which we quote from your letter:

            "A resident of this State buys a used airplane in another state after March 31, and returns it to this state.  Is this new owner eligible for the Quarterly Excise Tax discount if at some previous time the said airplane had been owned and registered in this state?"

            Our answer is in the affirmative.


            RCW 14.04.250 requires every aircraft to be registered with the state aeronautics commission for each calendar year in which it is operated within the state.  RCW 82.48.020 provides for an excise tax to be imposed annually upon the privilege of using any aircraft in this state.  The rate of tax is contained in RCW 82.48.030 as follows:

            "The amount of the tax imposed by this chapter for each year shall be one percent of the fair market value of the aircraft, as determined in the manner provided in this  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] chapter:  Provided, That upon aircraft registered for the first time under this chapter after March 31st and before July 1st of any year the excise tax for such year shall be reduced by one‑fourth thereof; that upon aircraft so registered for the first time after June 30th and before October 1st of any year the excise tax shall be reduced by one‑half thereof; and that upon aircraft so registered for the first time after September 30th of any year the excise tax shall be reduced by three‑fourths thereof;Provided further, That the minimum amount payable shall be three dollars."

            The answer to this question calls for an interpretation of the intent of the legislature in using the phrase "registered for the first time," followed by the words "of any year."

            The aircraft excise tax provided for in chapter 82.48 RCW of the state of Washington is imposed for the privilege of using an airplane within the state of Washington (RCW 82.48.020).  Under RCW 82.48.030, the entire one percent excise tax must be paid for each calendar year of use, with the exception of the specified reductions which are allowed if the aircraft is registered after the dates set forth in the statute.  For this reason, we feel that the credits against the annual tax allowed by RCW 82.48.030 were intended to provide relief in situations in which a particular airplane was in use in this state for only a portion of the calendar year, as evidenced by its registration date for that year.  Therefore, in our opinion, the phrase "registered for the first time" under this chapter must be regarded as modified by the phrase "of any year," so as to allow the appropriate amount of tax reduction for any year in which the airplane is registered after March 31, June 30, or September 30, as specified in the statute.

            We therefore conclude that a resident of the state of Washington who buys an airplane in another state and returns it to this state after March 31 is eligible for the appropriate quarterly excise tax reduction, even though the airplane had been owned and registered at some previous time in this state.

            We hope this opinion has been of some help to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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