Mark Thistle, president of Freedom Car, updates Maryland Limousine Association members Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, on efforts to combat the new Baltimore taxi and limousine per-passenger tax.
LINTHICUM, Md. — Maryland limousine operators are up in arms — and refusing to pay — a new Baltimore city tax targeting taxis and limousines. During Tuesday’s Maryland Limousine Association (MLA) monthly meeting, Mark Thistle, president of FreedomCar, updated more than 30 members on efforts to combat the new 25 cents per-passenger tax required for all passengers picked up in Baltimore.
Thistle, part of the Baltimore Transportation Tax Coalition (BTTC), a newly formed group launched to fight the tax, shared strategies to repeal the tax, which caught regional operators off-guard when it went into effect Oct. 1. Since then, both taxi and limousines operators have refused to pay that tax as a unified act of defiance.
Thistle said the city underestimated resistance from taxi and limousine operators when it included the tax (intended to raise $1.3 million annually) as part of an overall financial package to raise $30-million over 10 years to reduce the budget deficit.
“We can’t repeal this law, but we are trying to amend it,” Thistle said. “It’s not just the tax, but an accounting nightmare to track passengers — and nobody wants the city to be looking into our business each month to see if we are tracking passengers.”
MLA President Joanna Fridinger, also active in fighting the tax, has been reaching out to the media to present the dire effects of the tax on operators. Quoted in The Baltimore Sun, Fridinger said, “ Trying to collect these funds is like trying to pick every single pea out of a bowl of pea soup. To have a tax that’s a per-person, per-trip fee? Trying to figure that out, for a lot of the companies is going to be crazy.”
As of Nov. 19, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, sympathetic to the plight of the taxi and limousine operators, introduced a proposal to temporarily halt the law for 180 days to allow time for discussion and, hopefully, compromise between all sides on a mutual solution.
— Tom Halligan, LCT East Coast Editor