County officials are expected to deny $7.2 million in tax refund claims put in by several airlines doing business at San Francisco International Airport that claim their jets and planes were overvalued in 2009 by the Assessor’s Office.
The airlines — AirTran, American, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest and United — seek various amounts totaling $7,292,454.75 because they claim the Assessor’s Office misapplied the formula for commercial aircraft which left the fleet overvalued and therefore overtaxed.
Airlines are taxed based partially on how much time they spend at an airport.
The county doesn’t address the validity of the airlines’ claims but maintains that is beyond the point because the four-year statute of limitations has expired on at least one of them. United Airlines filed a claim for a $500,939.97 refund on 2009 taxes on Aug. 12, 2013.
Taxpayers like the airlines must also first file an application with the county’s Assessment Appeals Board, which they did not, said Deputy County Counsel Rebecca Archer.
“That is the main issue we’re contesting. Obviously, we disagree on their valuation but as far as we’re concerned that isn’t the point,” Archer said.
The denial is really just a formality because the airlines have also filed suit in San Mateo County on the argument that the allegedly wrong taxation was a constitutional violation and therefore needn’t first be considered by the Assessment Appeals Board, Archer said.
If the court agrees with the county, the matter is done. If instead the court sides with the airlines, both sides will continue forward with an evidentiary hearing.
San Mateo County isn’t the only jurisdiction hit with lawsuits over aircraft assessments. Forty-four similar lawsuits have been filed across the state with similar claims of depreciation due to economic obsolescence, Archer said.
The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102