DOR assessed Flight Options with a tax, which Flight Options objected to. DOR made a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Flight Options appealed arguing that they were wrongly assessed the tax because they do not own the assessed property (aircrafts).
Flight Options sells fractional interests in aircrafts while maintaining ownership, management, and operation in the jets. The fractional owners cannot sell or transfer their share without Flight Options approval and Flight Options staffs the aircrafts.
The appeals court used RCW 84.12 in their analysis, which governs assessment of taxes of public utilities including airplane companies. The court found that the RCW expressly states that taxation is assessed for any person that owns, controls, or operates an aircraft for compensation. Moreover, the court held that because Flight Options maintains some ownership over the airplanes as well as full control, “the aircraft(s) are clearly Flight Options’ ‘operating’ property” under the statute.