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Air taxi operator says IRS drove him into bankruptcy

Bill Roth

The owner of Alaska Air Taxi LLC of Anchorage, who appeared in the "Alaska Wing Men" reality series on the National Geographic Channel, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Jack Barber tells The Wall Street Journal a bill from the IRS for more than $1 million in unpaid taxes forced him into it. 

The federal government charges flight operators a $3-per-passenger tax for trips that are flown at regular, scheduled intervals. Specifically, that tax is due on routes that are flown “with some degree of regularity,” according to the federal rulebooks.

The segment tax, as it’s called, is also chargeable every time the airplane touches down and takes off again during the same trip.

But the rulebooks don’t define “some degree of regularity,” and the IRS has been stricter about designating routes that some charter operators take as “regular,” according to the Alaska Air Carriers Association.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is taken up the fight on behalf of the air carriers, proposing legislation to specify the tax won't apply to non-scheduled flights to areas off the road system.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers say IRS could sink Alaska's small airlines

Alaska Dispatch covered the dispute back in July: Some Alaska air taxis may ow IRS more than $1 million