Lawmakers Kill Proposal for Idaho Rental Car Tax Hike

Lawmakers on Idaho’s House Transportation Committee have killed a proposal to add a 6-percent tax on rental car sales.

Four rental company executives and a lobbyist for the Idaho Car Rental Association spoke against the measure, which would have raised $2 million for the state, counties, and cities by adding a tax on the price rental companies charge each customer. The association representatives said the auto rental industry has already been battered by the country’s economic downturn.

Rhett Fornof, vice president and general manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and who runs Enterprise operations in Utah and Idaho, described tumbling revenue, plummeting stock prices and bankruptcy filings among rental companies.

The bill, presented by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, is just a small piece of Otter’s plan to raise funds for ongoing transportation needs through tax and fee hikes, funding shifts and the elimination of the fuel tax exemption for ethanol and biodiesel.

Lawmakers seemed receptive to industry arguments that rental agencies were being singled out to pay for broader needs.

“This does seem to me like we’re somewhat randomly picking one particular area (to raise revenue),” said Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow. “I don’t think it does anything to add fairness.”

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