Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s new taxi and limo tax of 25 cents per person, per trip is a key part of her overall revenue-generating strategy in the face of a property tax cut designed to lure more homeowners to the city. Baltimore’s Finance Department projects that the tax will raise $1.3 million for the city. That is, as long as the city’s taxi services actually pay it.
A group of “taxi, limousine, and for-hire sedan companies” that represents a large majority of private transportation vehicles in Baltimore have banded together with a vow to fight the new tax with “civil disobedience” — they say they simply won’t pay it.
It’s not just the nominal amount of the tax itself — which they say they are being prevented from offsetting by raising fares — that the companies object to. It’s also the administrative costs that will go into tracking every single passenger, something that they do not currently track and which — in the words of Maryland Limo Association President Joanna Fridinger — “is like trying to pick every single pea out of a bowl of pea soup.”
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke is cooking up legislation that would put off enforcement of the tax while a compromise can be reached between the city and the taxi cab operators.