The states without sales tax are Oregon, Delaware, and New Hampshire.
Although I deal primarily with multi state corporate income tax, sales tax has its own set of rules that vary from state to state.
The Delaware corps that I have seen hawked in various magazines/papers only tell part of the story. It is true that a Delaware corporation will not be assessed sales tax on any purchase (by Delaware). Additionally if the corporation is not doing business in Delaware (meaning among other things that the plane is not based there) the minimum annual corporate tax is only about $50 plus corp agent fees that run another $100-200 per year. That is far less than California’s $800 dollar minimum. Minimum taxes will vary with some states having no corporate minimum.
The problem comes into play when the plane is deemed based/used in another State. Again these rules vary from State to State, however a common point is that each State does not want to loose any revenue and will try (some desperately) to assess a use tax. When that plane that paid no tax in Delaware is now based at its “real” home a State will assess a use tax. Generally the burden of proof that the tax should not be assessed lies with the owner. Many States will also try to get the incremental increase in tax rates if a plane is moved from one jurisdiction to another…for example if the plane is based in New Jersey and tax is paid at 6% an additonal amount would be assessed by New York for the difference between the actual local rate (as high as 8.5%) and the tax previously paid.
I was once involved in setting up a stratagy for a California corporation that was acquiring a G IV. What we ended up doing was setting up a Nevada (I think it was Nevada but might have been Oregon) corporation and based the Gulfstream in that State. When the plane was needed it was flown into San Francisco loaded up and departed. I don’t think it was allowed to be in California more than 24 hours at a time.
A point I would like to make though is that if a corporation is formed to buy the plane there is a potential sales tax planning opportunity. When the plane is eventually sold if shares of the corporation rather then the plane itself is sold then there would be no tax due from the purchaser (assuming that we are talking about the same State). This should add value to the plane in as much as the purchaser could save 25k or so. Additionally if the corporation had been depreciating the plane if the shares are sold there would be no ordinary income recapture of the prior depreciation taken (or allowable).
I would be very wary of promises that essentially are tax evasion schemes. They will come back to bite you sooner or later.