UPDATE: August 5, 2011: Congress passed and the President has signed legislation that reinstates the taxes, retroactive to July 23, 2011. Therefore, passengers who purchased tickets before July 23, 2011 and traveled between July 23, 2011 and August 5, 2011 are not entitled to a refund of the taxes. The IRS plans to provide relief regarding taxes not otherwise paid or collected because of the lapse.
At midnight on July 22nd, 2011, the legislation mandating some of the taxes that passengers pay when purchasing an airline ticket expired. Until Congress passes new legislation reauthorizing the taxes, airline tickets will not include these taxes. The taxes include a 7.5 percent tax on the base ticket price, $3.70 per person per segment for domestic flights (higher for international flights), and a 6.25 percent tax on the amount paid for transporting property by air.
If you purchased an airline ticket prior to July 23rd, 2011, for travel after July 22nd, 2011, you are eligible for a refund of those taxes that you paid. The taxes apply relative to the travel dates, not the ticket purchase dates. The IRS suggests, in a posting on its website, that you first attempt to get the refund from the airline. They have your travel dates and payment information and therefore can streamline the refund process. If you are unable to get a refund through the airline, the IRS will come out with guidance “at a later date” to allow taxpayers to claim a refund through the IRS.
It is unclear at this point what will happen to passengers who purchase their tickets after July 22nd, 2011 and pay no tax, yet travel after the tax is reinstated. Congress will have to address that scenario when they reauthorize the taxes.
In the meantime, check any tickets that you have purchased and request a refund from your airline. Good luck!