Baltimore City Council’s Taxation, Finance, and Economic Development Committee approved a bill on January 23, 2020 that will allow the city to collect millions in taxes on Uber and Lyft rides. The rideshare tax bill will be heard by the full council on January 27 and is expected to be signed by Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
This bill was introduced over a year ago, but went unheard after the resignation of ex-Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. After her resignation, the committee postponed the hearing on the bill to allow newly-appointed Councilman Brandon Scott time to be briefed on the details.
Back in 2016, an amendment to the state law required the city to begin taxing the rideshare companies. But after receiving $2,000 in political contribution from Lyft, Pugh did not introduce the bill until January 2019.
The city finance department recommended doubling the tax to cover plunging parking revenues. The revenues from the city’s parking tax, meters, and city-owned garages decreased $4.2 million in the past two years. A number of factors play a role in the decline, the growth of rideshare being one of them. The tax will not be doubled, however. Instead, the committee approved a 25-cent tax. Prior to this, Uber and Lyft paid a 25-cent tax on rides originating in Annapolis, Brunswick, Frederick, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Ocean City.
In anticipation of this tax, Uber started charging Baltimore riders 25 cents extra per ride nearly a year ago. Recently, however, riders have been receiving credits in Uber Cash for a “city-specific fee” that was “ultimately not collected by the city.”
According to the mayor’s spokesperson, the city’s law department is planning to look into whether it can recoup the fee Uber collected from Baltimore riders for the past year without paying a tax to the city.
Depending on how things go, Uber could raise the cost of their services again to make up for the money they’re being taxed. But, even if the cost of rideshare services continues to rise, it’s unlikely people will stop utilizing the service. Often times, the advantages of using a rideshare service outweigh the increasing costs.
While most Uber and Lyft rides go as planned, there’ always the chance for an accident. The Rideshare Law Group is dedicated to helping victims of rideshare accidents recover. If you’ve been in a crash, contact us to learn about your rights.