Georgia lawmakers consider two bills that would tax Uber and Lyft rides

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Saturday, March 30, 2019
News 12 @ 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- You might second guess taking Uber and Lyft rides if lawmakers pass one of two bills they're considering right now. Those bills would charge riders sales tax for their trip.

On the streets of downtown Augusta, there's not a taxi in sight most nights.

"When we're in the city and going out on the town we always use Uber," said one downtown patron.

Instead, dozens of new era taxis called Uber and Lyft pick up folks and take them where they need to go -- all hours of the day.

"I'll usually use it [Uber or Lyft] whenever I fly to a place," said Payton Cain, another downtown patron. "I use Uber rather than renting a car."

Users consider Uber and Lyft more convenient than a rental car and often times cheaper than a taxi and it's easy to see why. Taking a look at a Lyft receipt for a trip in Augusta, the only money paid is for the fare itself. Sometimes there are service fees added on depending on the length of your trip, but no taxes.

Next to a receipt from a ride in New York, the one difference on it is sales tax on the ride. Two bills in Georgia could change that.

"I'd have to know what the tax is gonna be used for." said Cain.

For House Bill 511, tax money would be used to fund transit expansion across the state. The program would give transit vouchers to the unemployed to get to work or school and give tax credits to companies who subsize transit for employees.

The second bill, House Bill 276, is less clear about where the money would go to but either bill could cause prices to jump. Taxes are expected to be 7 percent to 8.9 percent across the state.

Cain says a higher price won't mean fewer rides for him.

HB 511 would leave the question up to voters. With the end of the legislative session approaching, we'll be keeping an eye on the status of both proposed tax changes.