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Tax on Uber and Lyft should be driving city’s Kirwan payments | READER COMMENTARY

A traveler arrives in the ride-share pick up location at Ontario International Airport on Aug. 12, 2019 in Ontario, Canada.
A traveler arrives in the ride-share pick up location at Ontario International Airport on Aug. 12, 2019 in Ontario, Canada. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

As a Baltimore property owner and resident, I’m outraged about the Uber and Lyft “tax exemption”(“Baltimore hasn’t collected taxes on Uber or Lyft rides, missing out on about $2.1 million per year in revenue,” Jan. 22). I’ve copied Colin Campbell’s article and am circulating it far and wide. Sadly, few people know about this negligence, and those who do don’t share my anger. Perhaps this is the reason these fiscal oversights happen.

If Baltimore were a two-party town instead of monolithic Democratic city, such a story would make excellent campaign fodder for the opposition. But there is no competition. Whoever wins the mayoral primary earns the prize.

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I take no solace that Uber did collect appropriate taxes, yet when the city failed to ask for it, they gave it to customers as “credit.” What should have happened was to create an escrow account. Good luck, Baltimore, trying to recoup $2.1 million that Uber and Lyft owe. (And on this subject, how much tax do scooter companies pay? These conveyances are everywhere and for pedestrians and property owners they’re a nuisance and often genuine hazards.)

But why aren’t citizens blasting City Council representatives demanding answers? When I called mine, it appeared to be the first call received. The people of Baltimore need to start reading newspapers again. That’s where stories like this are reported in depth. They also should care more about local issues and not the glut of celebrity details we’re saturated with.

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My suggestion is that Uber and Lyft pay a higher tax per ride and that these monies are applied to future Kirwan Commission education expenses.

Rosalind Nester Heid, Baltimore

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