Going Too Far?

This summer, American aviators found out that Maine enacted tax laws essentially charging a 5% sales tax on any plane under a year old that spends more than 20 days in the state. (Click to hear a podcast of an interview with Stephen Kahn...one of Maine's victims.) AOPA president Phil Boyer wrote Maine's Governer Baldacci a letter explaining how...misguided this policy is. Avweb also wrote a letter and gives some information about the response they received here. (Behindtheyolk.com has a full version of the response letter Maine has been sending out.)

I can't explain how confusing it is to me that the state of Maine could possibly think this law has any sense to it. Two facts make this even more out there: First, the law exempts part 135 type operators from paying this tax. It doesn't seem very fair to charge GA users and not commercial operators. Second, AOPA reports that the state has been tracking IFR flight plans, looking up n-numbers and seeking out aircraft owners. That's going too far.

The state's replies have repeatedly mentioned the exceptions to the law. An owner who paid 5% tax in another state is exempt, as well as an owner who purchased the plane more than a year ago. Those policies don't justify the law.

I don't expect I'll be visiting Maine anytime soon. If I were, I definitely wouldn't fly there if I had to file IFR. I'm tempted to write to the state myself, though I don't know how it I could word things any better than Phil Boyer did. Is there anyone out there who can provide a reasonable argument justifying Maine's actions?