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Calif. City's Voters OK Tax On Ride-Hailing Companies

By James Nani · November 13, 2020, 7:19 PM EST

Berkeley, Calif., voters approved a tax on those using transportation network companies for prearranged trips starting in the city at a rate of 50 cents per private trip and 25 cents per pooled trips.

Voters in the city approved Measure GG by about 59%, according to unofficial results from Alameda County. The measure, which needed a simple majority of voters to pass, is estimated to raise $910,000 annually, go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and last 20 years. The last large batch of unofficial results was uploaded online by the county on Thursday evening, though some ballots may still come in and the results have not yet been certified.

The tax, imposed on end-users and collected and remitted by transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft, will exempt drivers from city business license fees while the tax is in effect, according to an analysis by the city attorney's office.

The measure also will exempt trips paid or reimbursed by state or federal government healthcare entities and those in wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The City Council will be allowed to adopt other tax exemptions or discounts, such as those for low-income people or donated trips.

Supporters of the tax, including the mayor and environmental interests, argued ride-hailing companies should pay more for operating in the city, especially as congestion has increased. They also argued the measure would encourage pooled rides because of the lower fee and the tax would have helped to cut carbon emissions overall from less ridership.

Opponents argued ride-hailing companies already pay gas taxes and that public transit has been more hurt by the novel coronavirus pandemic than by competition from ride-hailing companies. They also argued the tax would make such rides more expensive and questioned its legality, noting that when San Francisco passed a similar measure, it needed authorization through a new state law.

--Editing by Leah Bennett.

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