Car Rental Coalition Opposes Excise Taxes in Florida

The Coalition Against Discriminatory Car Rental Excise Taxes opposes a proposed doubling of car rental excise taxes in Florida. The Florida Legislature, which enacted the current $2 daily rate in 1989, is now considering raising car rental excise taxes to $4 per day – a 100 percent increase – to help fund TriRail and SunRail.

“We recognize that mass transit is an important public policy and infrastructure issue,” said Jay Ryan, vice president for Enterprise Holdings, owner of Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental. “However, it is all too easy for political leaders to impose excise taxes on defenseless car rental customers – rather than enact an equitable, broad-based tax policy to spread the burden to all who benefit.”

The coalition said it is concerned about blatant efforts to target interstate travelers, and marketing campaigns that hide the fact that more than half of all car rental industry revenue is generated by local consumers and businesses every year.

The coalition also cited the concerns of the National Consumers League that noted car rental excise taxes can negatively impact local low-income residents who do not own vehicles and rent them instead. This is particularly true for Enterprise Rent-A-Car customers – nearly one in four earns less than $40,000 annually; one in 10 earns less than $30,000; and one in 20 earns less than $20,000.

Car rental excise taxes also impact car-sharing programs such as Connect by Hertz and WeCar, which was recently launched by Enterprise Rent-A-Car on the University of South Florida campus. Car-sharing initiatives are becoming popular on college campuses because they provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation solution for students, the coalition said.

“This is just another example of why the coalition universally opposes car rental excise taxes,” Ryan said. “These taxes are unfair, period. And they are particularly so for students and others who cannot afford to operate their own cars.”

The number of U.S. car rental excise taxes has tripled during the past 15 years, with more than 100 currently in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia. These taxes have collected more than $7.5 billion from car rental customers in the United States since 1990 – of which $2 billion has been collected in Florida.

Earlier this year, the nonpartisan coalition publicly opposed other proposed car rental excise taxes in Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

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