New Yorkers Taxed (Again) for Not Owning Cars


MetroCard machines aren’t the only place where the price of transit is going up. Reader Steven O’Neill points out that New Yorkers who sometimes rely on rental cars are now being hit with an additional five percent "bailout" tax, bringing the total tax for renting close to 20 percent. Says Steven:

This means that I, a very occasional driver who basically only ever
rents a car if I’m going somewhere outside of the city, am being forced
to pay exorbitant taxes so that daily car commuters can be allowed to
continue to drive into Manhattan for free. And it feels like a kick in
the teeth.

Eric Adams, I’m pissed off at you personally about this because you
are my Senator. If the Senate still exists by the next time you are up
for election, I plan to help give you the boot.

Bravo to Steven for channeling his frustration in the right direction. Any daily reporters out there care to talk to an informed MTA customer?

  • Clarence

    State Senators continue their record of exemplary service (this is where you would normally laugh, but it is too sad to do so.) Maybe next they can put a surcharge on bananas or popcorn or walking, dread anything but tolls.

    If everyone in the state were to make a pact to vote against their current representation in Albany next cycle, I would certainly join that initiative – even though I have a relatively new one that looks sort of promising. It’s time for a clean slate of new ideas.

  • da

    I feel exactly the same way, Steve. Tax anything and everything in sight, except DON’T TOUCH MY CAR or my right to drive anywhere, any time, at no cost to me.

  • To be fair, there are taxes on owning motor vehicles as well (keeping in mind that streets and highways “operate at a loss”). But this setup violates what seems to be a tradition of taxing things in a way that makes sense. E.g. Some tolls go to improving mass transit because without transit driving would be (even more) untenable.

    But this new tax, connecting something that has absolutely nothing to do with commuting, has been levied simply to pick up some of the slack from people (I’m guessing many politicians think these people are all tourists) who aren’t perceived to have any political significance.

    (I told Eric Adams exactly this and got an understanding reply, but he either didn’t have enough influence himself, or didn’t really care.)

  • Andy

    And that 6% rental ax used to be 5% a few months ago as well. I can see taxing rental cars, but short term rental cars systems (carsharing) are not meant for tourists. Because of application and membership fees, it’s meant for people willing to pay a little upfront to have cheaper rates and the convenience to use a car at any time for a few hours. Carshares really need a tax exemption here to make them a cheaper more viable solution!

  • What’s NY MCT that the tax goes toward? I think fees on rental cars are a potential funding source for other transit modes as well, bear that in mind.

  • Ken

    Since I’m partially self-employed, I just received in the mail notice of the “Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax.” This levies a .34% tax on “net earnings from self-employment allocated to the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD) that exceed $10,0000 for the tax year.” I assume this is the new tax to help save the MTA that our state lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, assessed in lieu of charging drivers who use the East River bridges. Once again, they drive and we pay so they can drive more. A heartfelt thank you to all four amigos.

  • NYS Sen Eric Adams

    Steven: I’m surprised you would conclude that I did not care about an important issue like this, especially since you acknowledge that you “got an understanding reply” from me. I have asserted many times that I am a public transportation advocate, and I oppose any tax that would impede attempts to decrease automobile traffic, including levies on rental cars.

    I appreciate the occasional need for a vehicle, and the Zipcar quick rental system seems to be an efficient arrangement. I use it myself from time to time and I love it. (And by the way, I am not exempt from the tax.)

    I opposed this tax increase when it was proposed and favored its defeat when it was brought to the floor, but the reality in the Senate is that 32 votes are required to stop a bill (and that includes items that are tucked away in a budget measure). Unfortunately, I didn’t have 31 fellow Senators who shared my view.

    Thank you, Steven, for bringing this issue to my attention.

  • Thank you for your reply, Senator. I’m sure you can understand my frustration, especially within the context of this blog, in the lack of effective leadership in Albany on transportation matters.

  • It’s not enough to oppose taxes, you have to suport fair revenue streams to fill in the gap.

    “To be fair, there are taxes on owning motor vehicles as well (keeping in mind that streets and highways “operate at a loss”).”

    I would just point out that car rental/sharing companies pay these ownership taxes and then some, so their customers are already paying them in proportion to their use. Above that floor, it is no-tax for car owners and special-tax for car sharers.

  • Ian Turner

    Mr. Adams,

    I oppose any tax that would impede attempts to decrease automobile traffic.

    However, you do favor policies that would encourage more automobile traffic. You are to be applauded for your rhetorical wrangling, if not for solid policy choices.

  • John Mc

    Bostonians have been paying a similar tax for a few years now as well….

  • david

    I am being taxed as a freelancer of income over 10k. I work at home! I don’t commute! STUPID. Too much. I can see why people leave ny.


Congestion Pricing Q&A With Rohit Aggarwala, Part 1

Too many unanswered questions. Among New York State Assembly Democrats, that has been one of the most frequent criticisms of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal for a three-year congestion pricing pilot project in New York City. Last month, Lower Manhattan Assembly member Deborah Glick said that she and her colleagues were “confronted with a dearth of information […]

What We Learned From the Daily News Bike Lane Debate

Earlier today I participated in a live chat debate on the topic of bike lanes, hosted and moderated by Celeste Katz. The chief sparring partner for supporters of bike lanes was Alex Nazaryan, who sits on the paper’s editorial board and joined a group of cyclists for an uneventful ride across the Manhattan Bridge the […]

Blame Game Continues: Smith Swipes at MTA, Monserrate Goes Anti-Toll

There’s MTA rescue news today from the State Senate, and none of it good.  Queens Senator Hiram Monserrate, who had considered new tolls on East and Harlem River bridges acceptable as a "last resort," has flip-flopped. The Daily Politics reports that Monserrate now opposes new tolls, and faults the MTA for "failing to explain ‘specifically’ […]

As Transit Is Gutted in Orange County, Freeways Set to Expand

Communities around the country are bracing for the impact of fare hikes and transit cuts, as jury-rigged funding mechanisms for vital local transportation systems crumble under the strain of the weakening economy. You already know about the MTA’s woes in New York City; today, the Times had a report about the 75 percent fare increase […]