Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
We’re here to help you! The Franchise Tax Board of California has proposed new regulations that would allow the state to tax commercial launch companies.
You can read the full proposal here [pdf].
The rules are designed to apply to any company operating in California that generates at least half the money it takes in from “space transportation” — defined as the movement of people or property 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. That’s the internationally recognized line that separates our planet from the rest of space. It would apply to companies that use California as a launchpad, not California companies launching from other states, like Texas or Florida.
Essentially, they will tax any launch from Vandenberg, basing the tax on the distance the payload flies while still attached to the rocket and still the responsibility of the launch provider.
This is essentially a tax on SpaceX, since they are California’s only major launch company. This is also a tax on Vandenberg, the only spaceport in the state. The result? Expect future companies to flee California. Expect new spaceports to spring up elsewhere. As noted in the article:
At least one company has already been lured away from California for the promise of greater financial incentives — though of a more earthly variety. Moon Express, a company working to mine the moon for natural resources, moved from Mountain View to Florida. In an email, the company’s CEO and founder, Bob Richards, said the company “relocated from California to Florida in part due to the State of Florida’s progressive economic development incentives designed to attract commercial space companies