Jet repair tax breaks clears Senate committee

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A plan to forgive private jet repair shops for unpaid sales tax debt and restore an expired tax exemption cleared a hurdle in the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday. 

A 2010 sales tax exemption for private jet repair parts expired in 2014, and the industry says it was caught off guard until an audit in March flagged the issue at one Illinois facility. They quickly pushed a bill through the House during the first week of veto session to restore the exemption and forgive the tax debt. 

The measure appears headed for Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk, despite his threat to veto it. 

Pritzker’s public opposition to the tax break drew the ire of one of his longest allies, Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park who advanced the Governor’s progressive tax ballot question in the Senate. 

“You’re not pursuing the tax payers,” Harmon told Pritzker’s Revenue Director David Harris. “You’re pursuing essentially the retailers in this case, the tax collector.”

“The responsibility for paying the tax rests on the retailer,” Harris responded. 

Senator Rachelle Crowe, a freshman Democrat from Glen Carbon, drew a distinction between the private jet owners and the repair shop mechanics who hold the wrenches. Harmon sided with the repair shops, arguing they are only collecting tax on behalf of the state, and urged the Senate to pass the plan, and perhaps override Pritzker’s veto, should it come to that. 

“To penalize the agents of the state for the profound failure of the Department under the previous administration seems absurd,” Harmon said. 

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