AerospaceHuman ResourcesArchitectureInnovationBanking & FinanceNonprofitsConstructionReal EstateEconomy RetailEducationSales & MarketingEnergyTechnologyGovernmentTransportationHealth Care
Oklahoma, among other states, raising vehicle rental taxes, rising ire of Enterprise Rent-A-Car
The company is questioning why Oklahoma and other states squeeze a select group of its own citizens simply because they are renting a car.
Dave Lemcke, vice president of finance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, works in Oklahoma City. He said the vehicle rental tax of 6 percent does not make sense and is discriminatory to citizens who just happen to be car rental customers.
"Overall, we in the rental-car industry understand that approximately 50 percent of our customers are local residents," Lemcke said. "We believe our percentage at Enterprise Rent-A-Car is much higher than that in Oklahoma, because more than 90 percent of our business is done outside of local airports. We're looking at this and trying to understand why rental car customers are being singled out to pay an additional rental tax."
Laura Bryant, manager of public relations for Enterprise Rent-A-Car headquartered in St. Louis, said excise-tax legislation seems to be growing ever more popular around the country as lawmakers look at ways to fund everything from museums to athletic stadiums.
"Taxes levied at car-rental customers are gaining a lot of discussion because more and more municipalities are looking at ways to increase their revenue streams," Bryant said. "Some lawmakers mistakenly believe that car-rental taxes hit mainly out of towners. We believe such taxes put a disproportionate share of burden on the backs of our car rental customers.
"We're a part of the business community and are totally supportive of whatever projects that a community or state wants to support and we want to do our part, but fair taxation is what we're looking for."
Bryant said Enterprise-Rent-A-Car faces a large number of excise taxes throughout the country.
During the last two years, Wisconsin passed legislation that levies a $2 rental car tax to help extend Chicago's Metra commuter trains from Kenosha to Racine and Milwaukee.
In North Dakota, cities will impose a 1-percent tax on car and truck rentals of fewer than 30 days.
In Medford, Ore., the City of Medford passed a 5-percent car-rental tax to pay for a $5.3 million, 20-year bond to build ball fields and a gym.
The City of Revere, Mass., made the national news when ABC's "Money Watch" reported that the city passed its own $10 contract rental tax in 2005 and that such hidden taxes were catching many people by surprise, particularly local residents.
"We're taking on a more visible role in the industry," Bryant said. "Customers are confused and don't understand why charges are being piled on, so we are advocating on the behalf of the customer. Such taxes are not equitable. Do car rental customers have a special obligation to pay for projects that benefit everyone in a community? Broad-based taxes are more equitable and reliable."
Paula Ross, director of communications, Oklahoma Tax Commission, said Oklahoma first began collecting a 6-percent vehicle rental tax in 1982.
"The legislature passes laws and this was passed in 1982," Ross said. "We just administer the tax laws as noted by the Legislature."
For every $1 collected from the vehicle rental tax, funding is distributed in the following manner:
o 44.84 percent goes into the state's general revenue fund;
o 36.2 percent goes into various school funds;
o 7.24 percent goes into county highway maintenance;
o 3.62 percent goes into the emergency county road fund;
o 3.1 percent goes to various city and incorporated towns;
o 2.59 percent goes to the county road fund;
o 1.24 percent goes to the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement Fund;
o .83 percent goes to counties to support county governments;
o .31 percent goes to the state transportation fund;
o .03 percent goes to the wildlife conservation fund.