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Assembly seeks surcharge on ride-hailing services

ALBANY – Assembly Democrats want to hike taxes on upstate consumers who use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft as part of a revenue-raising budget plan.

The one-house budget bill stakes out the Assembly Democrats’ positions for upcoming fiscal talks with the governor and Senate. It includes language imposing a $1 surcharge on every ride-hailing trip. The provision also appears to affect other livery companies, though not taxi services.

The measure would raise $48 million from ride-hailing and other livery trips in upstate and Long Island, Assembly officials said Wednesday.

The ride-hailing industry says the surcharge would effectively boost taxes on average rides by about 8 percent, taking the average total tax on rides to 12 percent – a level officials say would be the nation’s highest for rides offered by Uber, Lyft and other companies.

“The New York State Assembly budget proposal more than triples the taxes on ride-sharing for upstate New Yorkers, who have only had access to affordable, reliable transportation options like Uber for eight months,’’ said Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber, the nation’s largest ride-hailing company.

“Upstate New Yorkers can’t afford more Albany taxes,’’ Gold added.

The Assembly plan includes a $2.75 per trip surcharge on transportation services – ride-hailing, black cars and limousines – picking up and dropping off passengers in a large area of Manhattan. The revenues are intended for the city’s subway and bus system.

The Assembly budget bill adds a section that imposes on transportation services a “surcharge of one dollar on every trip that originates and terminates within this state and does not enter into, originate in or terminate in” the large area of Manhattan below 96th Street.

A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, defended the surcharge, saying it would raise revenues to help pay for upstate transit and transportation needs.

“The bottom line is New York has many upstate transit needs. These companies need safe roads and bridges to transport their customers and this proposal drives much-needed funding to support those needs,’’ said Michael Whyland, the Assembly spokesman.

While the governor’s budget includes more than $1 billion in various tax and other revenue-raising increases, Senate Republicans say they want a final budget that includes no additional tax, fee and surcharge hikes. The Senate is expected to pass its own one-house budget today. The sides will then use the three vying fiscal plans to negotiate a new, $170 billion or so state budget. The new fiscal year starts April 1.

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