PA Group Seeks to Remove Car Rental Tax

As part of a campaign being called the “Whiskey Rebellion II,” a group of Pennsylvania residents are working to get an initiative on the November ballot to remove a tax on alcoholic drinks…and a $2 a day tax on car rentals, according to Budget & Tax News.

The drink and car rental taxes were imposed January 1 by Allegheny County officials. County Chief Executive Dan Onorato estimated the taxes would bring in $40 million for the local port authority, which runs the mass transit system for Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. The drink tax alone was expected to generate $30 million in revenue.

County spokesman Kevin Evanto said the county would have to raise property taxes without the drink and rental car taxes. The money from those taxes is being dedicated to mass transit. It's the first time the county has ever had taxes dedicated for transit, Evanto said. Since 1964, Allegheny County has provided property tax money to the local port authority to receive matching state and federal transit funds.

Last year county officials asked state lawmakers for permission to use alternative revenues. Lawmakers responded with a bill giving the county the authority to impose taxes on alcoholic drinks and rental cars.

Cris Hoel, general counsel for Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (FACT), an organization made up largely of hospitality industry business owners who say they are being hurt by the tax, said the tax would not go away entirely under the FACT-inspired referendum. The group seeks to cut it to one-half of 1 percent, which would be expected to bring in about $2 million per year, according to Budget & Tax News.

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