Are You Eligible for an Airline Tax Refund?

Christopher Axene | August 10th, 2011

If you traveled by air and purchased a plane ticket on or before July 22, 2011, for a trip leaving July 23 or later, you may be entitled to a refund on the air transportation excise tax you paid.

The federal air transportation excise tax lapsed after July 22, 2011 when Congress failed to extend the FAA’s authority to regulate federal funding from the tax. Congress has been deadlocked over extending the FAA’s funding because of a dispute over ending subsidies to 13 rural airports. The House passed legislation containing the cuts, while Senate Democratic leaders oppose them and have refused to consider the House’s legislation.

As a result, airline passengers who purchased tickets before the deadline but for a flight occurring after it may be entitled to a refund. (Those who booked their trip after July 22 are not eligible for a refund.) The IRS issued initial guidance asking affected passengers to obtain a refund from their airline. However, some airlines are directing passengers to work directly with the IRS for the refund. Final guidance on how refunds will be processed has not yet been provided by the IRS.  We will report on this process once it is finalized.

If you are eligible for an air transportation excise tax refund, work first with your airline carrier. If you are unable to receive a refund from the airline, you can submit a claim to the IRS. However, because the IRS does not track ticket prices or travel dates, passengers submitting claims to the IRS must provide proof of taxes paid and travel dates. The excise tax appears on the passenger’s receipt as a separate item.

PLEASE NOTE: Congress has enacted retroactive legislation that reinstates the airline excise tax. Please view this updated blog post for additional information.

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