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I see several mentions in recent news of a proposed tax on launches in the state of California, and that it would be 'by the mile'.

The nature of the currently proposed tax is described in this excellent answer.

Question: What expenses and risks might the state of California incur that might partially justify a new, specific "rocket tax" beyond how the industry pays taxes already?


Quartz: California’s plan to tax rockets by the mile is exactly what space companies want (what's next, speeding tickets?) note there are links to pdfs in this article that seem to contain some tax language.

San Francisco Chronicle: California plans for collecting taxes on spaceflight

Ars Technica: California seeks to tax rocket launches, which are already taxed (The tax will be based upon "mileage" traveled by that spacecraft from California)

Parabolic Arc: California Considers Tax on Launches Within the State

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    $\begingroup$ Apparently, SpaceX wanted this tax, since they launch over the coast right away, the total distance they travel is very low. However Mojave will be hit hard by it. Seems like the big-uns may have wanted it to penalize Mojave over Vandenberg. $\endgroup$ – geoffc May 10 '17 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc: Distance over land is insignificant. Every space launch from Californian soil is counted as fixed 62 miles. $\endgroup$ – SF. May 11 '17 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ When did a political decision ever need a "justification"? The majority voted for whatever the elected politicians then do. That's the only justification that matters. It's democracy. Trying to rationalize it post fact is futile, it's as superstitious as tassology. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff May 11 '17 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff In this case it is not post fact. It has not been made into law yet, so there is good reason to question motives. Obviously, there may not be any good ones, but that is all the better to find out what they are at this stage. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 11 '17 at 13:51
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SpaceX wanted a sensible tax because sooner or later space launches would get taxed, and they feared whatever monstrosity would the legislator came up with if left to their own devices. The nice part about this tax is the higher the payload orbit, the lower it is. Suborbital "barely space" launches pay the most.

The tax has no specific justifications of specific risks and expenses - it's just a regular extension of standard transport tax applied to trucks, trains, water transport etc - essentially, SpaceX becomes "just another transportation company". The only "quirk" relative to these taxes is that the distance "over Californian soil" is measured vertically as opposed to horizontally, a fixed 62 miles from launch site to the Kármán line vs payload separation altitude, as opposed to distance over Californian roads vs roads outside California. One might argue the tax for launch sites on >1 mile mountain tops - but then all of downrange distance is tax-free.

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  • $\begingroup$ This question allows for educated speculation also " ...might the state of California incur that might partially justify..." I'm interested if a state might incur some expense, especially if space traffic increases significantly in the future and or if there is a major disaster. Here's a rare chance to get a bit creative. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 11 '17 at 11:54

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