Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, is proposing a fuel tax break for Delta and other airlines at Hartsfield-Jackson. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Lawmakers want to give Delta a new fuel tax break

Delta Airlines recently announced a nearly $4.4 billion profit last year, but some lawmakers are pushing to give them back part of the fuel tax break the General Assembly took away in 2015.

Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, who serves on the committee that writes tax bills, has filed House 145, which exempts part of the state jet fuel taxes used by airlines at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport when planes are traveling out of state on domestic flights.

Carson said he isn’t sure how big the tax break would be, but he estimated it would cost the state and save airlines around $15 million. Delta would be the biggest beneficiary since it is the dominant airline at Hartsfield-Jackson.

“It’s about tax equity, about not being the third-highest tax state in regards to jet fuel,” Carson said. “This puts us in the middle in terms of attracting airlines here.”

Under the bill, if Delta or another airline is flying to say, Seattle, they would pay sales taxes on 45 percent of the fuel. If the flight is to, say, Savannah, the company would be pay 100 percent of the taxes on the fuel.

Carson said, “It’s not about Delta, it’s about Delta and its competitors.”

Lawmakers passed a jet fuel tax break in 2005 for Delta when the company was in financial trouble. Legislators said it was never supposed to be permanent, but they kept renewing it and eventually made it permanent even when the company was making record profits.

Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, sought to kill the tax break in 2015, and lawmakers repealed it in a transportation tax hike measure that passed near the end of the session.

Then-Delta CEO Richard Anderson had angered some lawmakers when he publicly challenged them to raise other taxes to help pay for new roads and bridges.

When asked about Carson’s bill, Ehrhart looked at it Monday and said, “I’m not for it.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.