It's becoming standard operating procedure for our elected officials in Washington to not get along with each other, and the latest item that has fallen victim to that we-can't-play-in-the-same-sandbox mentality is the legislation that would have maintained the federal taxes on airline tickets. Those of us who fly with some frequency and who have the foresight (or budgeting requirements) to purchase our tickets in advance, have the opportunity to get a little bit of the green stuff back, if the powers that be can only figure out how to make that happen.
There are two items at play here. For tickets purchased on or before July 22 for travel after that date, travelers paid the tax and are entitled to get a refund. For this, this IRS is hoping the airlines will step up to the plate and do the right thing by refunding the tax money directly to any passenger who asks. Alternatively, since the IRS is actually the organization that has the money, the IRS is going to have to pull together some of its administrative staff to oversee a refund program that allows people to file a claim for refund, send in their ticket stubs and boarding passes so that they can prove they actually bought the ticket and took the flight, and it's going to be a lot of headaches that the IRS would rather not have to endure. Maybe the members of Congress who let the aviation tax legislation expire should lend a hand and help the IRS by sorting and verifying the boarding passes and ticket receipts for the taxes that need to be refunded.
In the meantime, some of the airlines have decided to use this opportunity to raise their post-July 22 fares and pocket the money that would have gone to taxes. After all, why should the flyers get a break? You've gotta love that good old American capitalistic spirit.
Gail Perry, editor-in-chief