Aircraft firms’ tax credit gets support

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A bill that would expand tax incentives for the purpose of new hires in the state’s aviation field is flying through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

House Bill 1080 modifies the 2005 Aircraft Manufacturer New Employee Tax Credit, which provides a one-time $1,200 tax credit for a new employee hired by an aircraft manufacturer.

The bill expands the available tax incentives to manufacturers that provide aircraft maintenance, repair and modification services, which were not included in the bill from eight years ago.

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, a bill sponsor, said it’s important to extend the existing earned tax credits in an effort to attract high-paying jobs in a growing field, rather than having planes fly to other states just for the purposes of having repairs done.

“We have to recognize that big carriers like United or Frontier, when they need to maintain an airplane, very often they’ll fly it to Wisconsin or Chicago to do the work there, and then bring it back,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous that Colorado is losing out on those job opportunities.”

Holbert said he was approached about the idea for the bill by representatives from Centennial Airport. Airport Executive Director Robert Olislagers said Colorado is in a tough competition with other states for tax incentives for aviation jobs.

“Twelve hundred dollars in tax credits doesn’t sound like a whole lot,” he said. “But, if you add that in with other incentives that Colorado counties are providing, it starts to add up.”

Olislagers also said he hopes the bill will create more aviation jobs for veterans, especially when it comes to work that involves modifications of aircraft.

The bill passed the House on April 5 by a vote of 61-2, with two members excused from the vote.

“It’s a growing industry in Colorado,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada. “This bill helps aircraft manufacturers by being able to hire employees.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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