Aircraft rental proves taxing at Midway Airport
November 19, 2010 8:56PM
Updated: November 19, 2010 10:28PM
Dear Fixer: I have rented general aviation aircraft at various airports, but only at Midway Airport am I required to pay a “rental tax.’’ This fee is clearly labeled as a “Rental Tax’’ on invoices from Chicago Midway Aviators, and it is equal to the cost for the rental (which includes the fuel) multiplied by 10.25 percent.
It has nothing to do with the $7.50 landing fee, because that is charged separately for every flight. Since nothing is being purchased, why is a rental tax, equal to a sales tax, being charged?
Larry E. Nazimek, Chicago
Dear Larry: Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” — but as The Fixer found out after three months of digging, a tax by any other name is not necessarily a tax.
What was confusing about this was that the 10.25 percent “tax” you paid to Chicago Midway Aviators is the same percentage as the sales tax rate was in Chicago at the time you rented. (Since then, sales tax in Chicago has dropped to 9.75 percent due to the county board lowering its portion of the tax by 0.5 percent, effective July 1.) The other confusing thing was you said the previous owner used to tell you that he didn’t want to charge the tax but that the government made him do it.
But when we talked to Brian Kruger, the new owner of Chicago Midway Aviators, he said it’s not actually a sales tax and it doesn’t go to the government; rather it’s their own “unit fee.” Kruger said they multiply the cost of the rental by 10.25 percent to help pay for fuel and landing fees. He said they don’t charge government sales tax.
But he said he has no plans to make his billing more transparent and stop referring to the fee as a “tax.’’
You told us you’d rather they just raise their base prices rather than adding a charge that resembles a sales tax — when it isn’t actually a government tax. We suppose you’ll just have to carry a calculator with you when you want to compare rental prices.
On another note, we also consulted Diane L. Yetter, president of Yetter Consulting Services and an expert on sales taxes. She said aircraft rentals aren’t subject to sales/use taxes; however, such a transaction should be subject to an 8 percent Chicago personal property lease transaction tax. But that’s a taxing issue for another day.
Dear Fixer: I have had Comcast for about two years and have always paid my bills. For about the past three months, we have been having trouble with all services — phone, TV and computer.
I have called Comcast for the past four days with no luck. Since this started, I have had at least eight missed appointments where I have had to stay home all day with no one showing up. I call all the time on my cell phone and all I get is that they are working on getting someone out. Please help.
Joyce Sokolowski, Merrillville, Ind.
Dear Joyce: We sympathize. There’s nothing more frustrating than blocking off a huge window of time to wait for a technician who may or may not show up and who may or may not be able to fix the problem.
A software company called TOA Technologies last week released its second annual “Cost of Waiting” survey that attempts to quantify all those wasted hours. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they had waited for utility, cable/satellite TV, Internet, home delivery and other services over the past year — and typically did so about four times a year. Each wait averaged almost four and a half hours, costing consumers about $752 in lost time (based on self-reported monetary values for their time).
The good news for you is after Team Fixer got in touch with a spokesman for Comcast, this all got fixed in a jiffy. They finally corrected the technical problems, and you also got a list of all their supervisors. Let’s hope you don’t need it.
Dear Fixer: I know I should be ashamed of myself for even trying this. But I love playing blackjack and usually just play for fun online.
At my first and last attempt to play online for cash, I feel as though I got conned. I’m hoping you can assist me with getting my $110 payout from Slot Nuts Casino Gambling (Slotnuts.com). They keep giving me the runaround.
This may be a lost cause, as it appears they are located offshore in Curacao, Netherland Antilles.
Genny Pellegrino, Harwood Heights
Dear Genny:Team Fixer was hoping to get a trip to Curacao out of this, but our bosses weren’t willing to go that far. So we’ve been relegated to trying to reach the people at Slotnuts.com via e-mail. Slotnuts.com is related to Mightyslots.com; both are part of the Curgam Malta Ltd. Group, and complaints abound online about players not being able to obtain their winnings.
We sorry to say we haven’t had any better luck; every time we inquire, we get an e-mail from oliver@mightyslots, who keeps telling us he’ll get back to either you or us in one business day.
We’re not going to hold our breath waiting, but let us know if you ever receive your 110 bucks.
Health plan rankings
For everyone out there who’s overwhelmed with trying to compare prices and services between different insurers’ health plans, Consumer Reports is coming to the rescue. The venerable consumer magazine has teamed up with the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a non-profit health-plan accreditation group, to publish rankings of 227 HMOs around the country based on consumer satisfaction and the plans’ performance at keeping members healthy and treating them when they become seriously ill.
To get more info, or to subscribe and view the rankings, go to consumerreports.org/health/insurance/health-insurance-plans.htm.
Several new consumer protections took effect Sept. 23 because of the Affordable Care Act. For example, insurers can no longer deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions, and they can’t set lifetime limits for coverage. If you’ve ever known a kid with cancer, you know how important those protections are.
To view all your consumer rights, check out healthcare.gov.
Getting the runaround about a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer by visiting www.heraldnewsonline.com and searching for “Fixer.”