Georgia bill may cost Uber, Lyft customers more money

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – You or someone you know has probably used some form of a ride-sharing service, like Uber or Lyft.

Some customers say the apps are convenient and cheap, and a reliable way to get around. However, Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that could cost ride-share users more money and may be the most expensive in the country.

Members of the Georgia House passed House Bill 276 earlier this month, which would add sales tax to trips, causing fares to go up as high as 8.9%.

Middle Georgia State University student Deshawn Barkley uses Lyft or Uber when he goes out on weekends. He says his ride-share trip to go from campus to downtown can get costly.

Barkley said House Bill 276 may cause more trips to burn a hole in his wallet.

“First of all, it’s going to be more money out of my pocket and I wont go into downtown as much,” he said.

Edwin Vetterson has been driving part-time for Lyft for two years. He says he’s worried his job is at stake with this bill.

“I may have to come out of retirement and go find another job,” Vetterson said.

Vetterson says if the state approves this bill, customers may have to find other means of transportation.

“The tax at 8.9% will be the highest tax in the States for the riders, and it’s not something we’re imposing. It’s something the state is imposing. I need them to understand that,” Vetterson said.

Lyft released this statement about the bill:

“Adding some of the country’s highest taxes to ride-share trips will leave many Georgians stranded. Not only have Lyft and services like it vastly increased mobility for riders, but the availability of on-demand transportation has helped to reduce impaired driving and strengthen local economies. Increased costs to ride-sharing will also reduce earning opportunities for drivers as Georgians choose other ways to move around.”

Warner Robins Representative Heath Clark says this is not a new tax. He says ride-share customers aren’t paying the sales tax, because there isn’t a designated party collecting and facilitating the tax.

Clark says this bill would make someone responsible for collecting and remitting the sales tax.

The bill is awaiting a vote by the state Senate.

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Tanya comes all the way from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a city girl that’s excited to be a part of Middle Georgia’s community and tell your stories! She received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She also spent a few semesters studying at San Diego State University. While in college, she interviewed Joan Rivers before she passed away, was on the red carpet for the movie premiere of “Chiraq” and also interned with ABC7’s investigative reporters and Bill Kurtis. Tanya spent nearly 2 years reporting in Billings, Montana where she covered a lot of politics and agriculture. In her spare time, Tanya is a sports fanatic, so even though the Chicago Bears and Bulls didn’t know how to win this season, she still roots for them. You can guarantee you’ll run into her at the gym every day. If you do, stop by and say hi! Share your stories with her and don’t be surprised if she’s hiding chocolate chip cookies in her gym bag.