Taxis Fund Transit, a Letter to the Mayor and the City Council Speaker

We understand from the media that Uber has submitted a letter on their contributions to mass transit.  Here are the facts.

Taxis Fund Transit

Through the MTA’s collection of a 50-cent per-trip surcharge and other taxes and fees, yellow taxis contribute far more to State and City coffers than Uber. And while the bulk of taxes collected by taxis directly goes to the MTA, only a sliver of the sales tax amounts collected by Uber fund public transit.

Each yellow and green taxi trip includes a fifty cent tax that directly funds the MTA, while the 8.875% sales tax on black car trips almost entirely goes into State and City general funds. The general sales tax that consumers pay in New York City is really three taxes: a 4% state sales tax, a 4.5% New York City sales tax, and a .375% tax within counties that have MTA service. Only the 0.375% sales tax on each black car fare goes to the MTA.

Additionally, drivers who lease their taxis end up paying another $4.77 in sales tax on the lease of a cab for a twelve-hour shift. Of that $4.77, $1.20 goes entirely to the MTA.

In one day, a double-shifted taxi that makes 25 trips per shift collects $34.54 in tax revenue, of which $27.40 directly funds the MTA. One the other hand, in one day of full-time work, an Uber car may bring in $20 in general sales tax, handing over only $0.75 to the MTA.

An individual lease driver who averages 250 shifts a year pays $1,192.50 in the sales tax on the lease; and at an average of 25 fares per shift, generates $3,125 through the fifty cents, without any compensation on gasoline for each trip.

Additionally, in licensing fees, vehicle taxes, and other surcharges, taxis contribute significantly more than for-hire vehicles. Each taxicab must pay a bi-annual $1,650 renewal fee, and a Commercial Motor Vehicle Tax (CMVT) of $1,000. Each black car, on the other hand, pays a $275 annual fee for a for-hire vehicle license, and a $400 annual CMVT amount. And while each taxi trip also collects 30 cents to help fund the City's transition to a 50% wheelchair accessible taxi fleet, Uber has no wheelchair-accessible vehicles affiliated with any of its bases.

Of course, the Uber way is not to pay any taxes anywhere.  That’s why Uber has been lobbying across the country for novel legal status as a “Transportation Network Company” (TNC), outside of existing classifications for commercial vehicles and for-hire transportation regulations, just as they are doing in Albany right now. We have also read in the media that Uber would be “ok” with the black car sales tax going entirely toward the MTA and so basically defunding the other public services currently supported by the sales tax revenue.  Wow, how generous of them to say schools, fire houses, and precincts can take a backseat.  This is obviously a horrible self-serving notion and though it’s hard to imagine you are taking it seriously, we formally ask you to not entertain it. 

Download the PDF here