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Project Status: The 2011 update of the Airline Ticket Tax Project is now available in the Download section.

Welcome to the Airline Ticket Tax Project – a study of ticket taxes and user fees added directly to airline tickets. We publish ticket tax statistics in order to inform debate and support policymaking. We do this by analyzing actual ticket records, retroactively computing taxes and other government fees.

The Airline Ticket Tax Project is a research effort in the MIT Global Airline Industry Program. For more information about the project, please contact Joakim Karlsson.

Summary of research results

The figure below shows the average base fare (BF), total taxes and fees (TTF), and the effective tax rate (ETR) for U.S. flights within the 48 contiguous states.

The dollar value of total taxes and fees has remained relatively constant in real terms. The effective tax rate increased from 11% in 1993 to 16% by 2005, but has remained near 16% since then. The increase was due to a sharp decline in base fares (down by 34% from 1993 to 2005) and levy of a new security fee in 2002.

Summary of 2011 update

In July 2011, Congress let the FAA's authority to raise revenue expire. As a result, the 7.5% ticket tax and the $3.70 segment tax were not collected during the period July 23-August 7, 2011. This lapse in tax collection, combined with a sharp recovery in base fares, caused the average effective tax rate to drop to 14.8% in 2011. This marks the lowest level for the effective tax rate since 2001.

Note: All results are expressed in 2011 dollars, to adjust for inflation.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT Global Airline Industry Program

Last updated: 06/02/2012

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