Car-sharing apps’ popularity drives debate about taxes

PHOENIX — When Chris Williamson was in the market for a new family car, a timely ad and conversations with a co-worker persuaded him to try something out of the ordinary. He bought a BMW 3 Series convertible and covers the payments by renting it to strangers on a peer-to-peer car sharing app called Turo.

It allows his family of seven to have a nicer car, essentially for free.

“It’s great to have that little bit of extra income and not have to worry about the car payments,” said Williamson, a teacher from the Phoenix area.

But his customers and others using car-sharing apps around the United States get their rentals tax-free. That’s made them a target for rental car companies, airport authorities and local governments. They say users of the upstart apps should pay the same taxes and fees that come with traditional rental cars.
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