Google executives paid no property taxes on the planes belonging to their company, H211. They were housed on the Moffett airfield in Santa Clara County, CA, that is not generally open to public. That’s a potential tax loss of about $500,000 per airplane per year thanks to a loophole that disallows to tax any property kept on Federal property, also known as a federal enclave.
In addition, H211 was able to purchase the jet fuel from the Federal government at the price that was well below market value. The fuel that costs for other Bay area operators were as high as $8.05 per gallon, H211 paid $1.68 – $3.79 per gallon. How was it possible? An agreement with NASA dating from 2007 allowed the planes to be housed on the Moffett airfield. In return, H211 was to pay rent to NASA in the amount of $113,365.74 per month. The rent was later dropped to $108,938.62 after NASA was allowed to use the planes for Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX) Project atmospheric measurement flights.
However, the examination of the records shows that out of 1,039 flights, only 155 were actually used for science. The planes however, were used to fly to locations such as Los Angeles, Hawaii and New York. As well as around the world, to places like Cancun, Paris, London and Scotland. While there are no amounts of flights mentioned directly in the contract between H211 and NASA, the use of federal fuel for the “joyride” trips has some in Congress asking for further investigation.
During the investigation by the NBC Bay Area in May of 2012, the Department of Defense announced that the government will no longer sell fuel to H211 starting August 31, 2013.
For more information on the NBC bay Area’s investigation and for some nice infographics, click here.