Los Angeles County bid to tax space satellites rejected | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Los Angeles County bid to tax space satellites rejected

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A bid to tax a piece of the heavens has been brought back to Earth.

The California Board of Equalization has approved a rule that prohibits state and local taxes from being assessed on space satellites.

The ruling, made on a 5-0 vote Wednesday, ends a debate sparked by an attempt by Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach to collect property taxes on at least eight satellites owned by Hughes Electronics Corp.

The satellites, parked in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the equator, were worth an estimated $100 million each when new.

”The Board of Equalization has acted reasonably and responsibly and we’re pleased about that,” Hughes spokesman George Jamison said Thursday.

Auerbach had sought to tax the satellites as movable property – similar to construction equipment or boats – since the issue came to light during a routine audit of El Segundo-based Hughes. While Auerbach stated previously he would consider taking the issue to court, on Thursday he said he would accept the board’s ruling.

”This was an issue that definitely needed clarification and they did that and I will follow that,” Auerbach said.

California space industry officials had feared the bid would chase satellite-owning companies from the state.

The rule protecting orbiting satellites from taxation will take effect Jan. 1, pending review by the state’s Office of Administrative Law, said Sheri Larsen, a spokeswoman for the board.

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