Airlines Sue Sacramento County Over Property Taxes

June 09--Three airlines have sued Sacramento County over property tax assessments, demanding refunds totalling $2 million.

Southwest, United and Skywest airlines filed suit last week over the property taxes they pay when they park their jets at Sacramento International Airport. The property taxes are separate from landing fees the airlines are charged for doing business at the airport.

The same three carriers, along with American, AirTran and Envoy airlines, have also sued Los Angeles County over the same issue, demanding a combined $7 million in property tax refunds, according to a report by Bloomberg BNA.

All of the lawsuits focus on the 2009 tax year.

California law permits counties to assess property tax on commercial airplanes based in part on how much time they spend at a particular airport. In their lawsuits, the airlines say Sacramento County Assessor Kathleen Kelleher failed to take into account "economic obsolescence" of the planes when making her assessments.

Economic obsolescence includes passenger demand, the amount of revenue generated by the jets and other factors.

Southwest, the largest carrier at Sacramento International, is seeking the largest refund: $1.6 million. United says it is owed $365,000 and Skywest wants $65,000.

Kelleher wasn't immediately available for comment. Nor were attorneys from the airlines' Los Angeles law firm.


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