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Highlights

The multibillion dollar Airport and Airway Trust Fund (Trust Fund) provides most of the funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Trust Fund relies on revenue from 10 taxes, including passenger ticket, fuel, and cargo taxes. Concerns about the financial outlook of the Trust Fund have emerged recently given the downturn in passenger air travel, requests from the airlines to suspend some of the Trust Fund taxes, and the need to reauthorize FAA's major programs in 2003. GAO was asked to determine (1) the projected financial outlook of the Trust Fund and (2) how a 1- year suspension of various taxes accruing to the Trust Fund (i.e., a tax holiday), would affect its financial status. We were asked to assess five potential tax holidays that would have begun on April 1, 2003, and ended on April 1, 2004. GAO used a model developed by FAA that made financial projections for the Trust Fund using expenditure assumptions that were based on (1) the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's May 2, 2003, and the House Subcommittee on Aviation's May 15, 2003, reauthorization proposals authorizing over $34 billion and (2) the President's proposal authorizing almost $38 billion from the Trust Fund. For each of these proposals, GAO asked FAA to model the effects of five different tax holidays.

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