5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigates Destination: Delinquent
If you own a car in Minnesota, you're supposed to pay the state registration tabs for your license plates.
If you own and fly a plane or a helicopter, you also owe taxes.
But some aren't paying.
We uncovered thousands of tax dollars left on the table and a registration system with holes big enough to fly a plane through.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation, led by reporter Mark Albert, tracks down a place called Destination: Delinquent.
Watch our investigation above.
BY THE NUMBERS:
$225,493: The amount the Minnesota Department of Transportation says was owed in overdue aircraft registration taxes as of Feb. 9, 2012.
$2.50: The initial penalty if an aircraft owner does not pay their overdue registration taxes in Minnesota, regardless of the value of the aircraft. The maximum penalty for unpaid registration tax is $200, no matter the aircraft's value or how many years the tax has been delinquent.
0: The number of liens placed by MnDOT on aircraft with delinquent registration taxes since 2007.
0: The number of people charged in court for not paying their aircraft registration, which is a misdemeanor offense under state law. "The collection system is complex and referring delinquencies to the court system will only add to that complexity as well as to the taxpayer burden," said MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. "However, legal action is certainly something we will consider in the future."
$6.5 million: The amount collected in Minnesota aircraft registration taxes in fiscal year 2011.
7,827: The number of aircraft registered in Minnesota (as of Feb. 9, 2012).
2: The number of staff at MnDOT's Office of Aeronautics that oversees aircraft registration tax payments and compliance.
357,000: The number of aircraft registered in the United States.
1/3: The estimated amount of aircraft registrations in the United States that have inaccurate records, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
143,800: The approximate number of aircraft that have already re-registered with the FAA as part of its mandated overhaul that began Oct. 1, 2010. All aircraft must be re-registered by Dec. 31, 2013.
100,000: The estimated number of aircraft registrations that will be canceled by the end of the FAA's re-registration process for failing to re-register.
Click here to view a list of all aircraft owners MnDOT considered delinquent and overdue (those who owed registration tax longer than one fiscal year) as of Feb. 9, 2012, which totaled $225,493. Since 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS obtained the list, owners have paid the state $38,000 in overdue taxes.
Click here to learn more about Minnesota's aircraft registration program.
Click here to learn more about the FAA Re-Registration program that seeks to clear up more than 100,000 estimated errors by re-registering every aircraft in the United States.
Click here to read the FAA's written answers to questions from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, after the FAA declined our request for an on-camera interview for this story.
Click here to watch an extended interview with Chris Roy, director of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Aeronautics, talking about the state's database, which relies on an error-filled FAA system.
Click here to watch an extended interview with Mike Vivion, coordinator of the University of Minnesota aviation program at Crookston.