Congressman Proposes Taxes for Billionaires Who Fly to Space

Congressman wants to tax Jeff Bezos in space, other space-travelling billionaires, too 8 photos
Photo: Blue Origin
Blue Origin's crew is riding in a Rivian electric truck to the launch siteBlue Origin's crew is riding in a Rivian electric truck to the launch siteNew Shepard rocket is getting ready for take offNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceThe rocket booster has landed back at Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West TexasJeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation legend Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen are in the capsule after a safe touchdown
The world’s richest and most famous billionaires, Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos, have often shunned the “billionaire” moniker, especially in recent conversations. What they’re doing in terms of space exploration is serious stuff – stuff that will, one day, save Earth. It’s not all for fun.
The other day, Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire to launch himself on his own rocket to the edge of space. Blue Origin’s New Shepard flew to the edge of space, lingered there for a few minutes, with the four passengers on board experiencing weightlessness, and then descended back on Earth, all in under 11 minutes.

Asked about it in media interviews preceding the launch, Bezos was adamant: despite what critics said about this being just a massive, space-themed ego trip, it was not. Space travel needs to democratize and to become more affordable, and when it does, we will have the answers to our problems on Earth, including pollution and climate change, and overpopulation and dwindling resources.

The reasoning is promising, albeit convoluted – and it’s also identical to Sir Richard Branson’s rhetoric, ahead of his own space flight last week. The bottom line is that both these billionaires have compared space flight to flying commercial, and how they’re more or less willing to take one for team humanity, and be guinea pigs.

If space travel wants to be akin to commercial flights, it can start by being taxable. That’s the proposition of senior Democrat Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), under the proposed Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act, which would tax space flights for any other reason than research. NASA launches would not fall under the proposed act, Politico notes, because they’re for research purposes. But Bezos and Branson’s would.

Blumenauer suggests a 10 percent per passenger excise tax, much like with airline tickets, and a two-tiered approach to per-launch taxes. Flights between 50 and 80 miles (80.4 and 128.7 km) above Earth, for instance, would be taxed lower than flights that reach higher altitudes. The reasons for the SPACE Tax Act would also be two-fold: environmental concerns, and the fact that the rich have to pay tax in space, just like they also do back on Earth.

“Space exploration isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

The Congressman is yet to reveal the text of the act, but he’s not alone is believing that billionaires are having a blast (pun intended) at our planet’s expense, only to pretend then that they’re doing it for the sake of all.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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