Want an Airline Tax Refund? Be Patient
UPDATE: Since this column was written, the airline ticket tax was reinstated retroactively. See Sorry, No Airline Ticket Tax Refund for more information.
Airline passengers who bought tickets on or before July 22 for travel on or after July 23 are probably due a refund of the federal taxes they paid on their tickets. The problem will be actually getting the refund.
Congress adjourned July 22 without passing legislation authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration's operating authority, leaving the administration without the ability to collect air transportation excise taxes. So ticket taxes don't apply to air travel starting July 23.
The IRS has asked airlines to provide refunds to eligible passengers who request them, according to an IRS statement on airline ticket taxes. Alaska Airlines states on its Web site that it's working on a process to help its passengers collect refunds. However, other airlines -- such as JetBlue, United and Frontier Airlines -- are instructing passengers to contact the IRS for a refund.
The IRS says passengers who can't get a refund from the airline will need to submit proof of taxes paid and travel dates "under procedures that are under development. The IRS will provide additional guidance at a later date."
Our advice: Gather the evidence you need to get a refund, be patient while the IRS develops its procedures and check back here for updates.
UPDATE: Delta Air Lines announced August 1 will process refunds directly for its passengers -- but is waiting for guidelines from the IRS on how to provide refunds.