Taxi Drivers Refuse to Be Tax Collectors
Two influential aldermen on the Chicago Finance Committee, Alderman Burke and Alderman Austin, have proposed a $1 tax on all taxi rides in the City of Chicago. This tax is being collected in an effort to balance the City’s bloated budget. If this tax were to pass it would generate an estimated $70 million in revenue for the City per year.
This tax proposal came just days after the City held a hearing to determine whether or not to enact a fare increase for taxi drivers. The taxi driving community has been lobbying for a fare increase for the past 5 years and thus far no adjustments to the rate of fare have been enacted. A study by the United Taxidriver Community Council (UTCC) has shown that drivers make between $4.38 and $6.79 per hour, below minimum wage. Drivers are upset that the City refuses to implement a fare increase that would provide economic relief to the driving community. Instead the City is attempting to use cab drivers as a tax collecting mechanism by implementing a $1 tax that serves no economic benefit to drivers.
Alderman Burke claims that Chicagoans seldom use taxicabs and that this $1 tax will mostly have an impact on people visiting from out of town. He says, “These (taxis) are mainly used by visitors to Chicago, the business people who are on expense accounts and it isn’t a big amount. A $1 surcharge isn’t going to hurt anybody in my opinion, and it doesn’t impact Chicago citizens.” Taxi drivers reject Alderman Burke’s claim that taxis are solely used by passengers from out of town. They view the Alderman’s statement as a way to garner support for the tax without any real evidence to back up his claim.
There are 30 aldermen on the City’s Finance Committee who will be voting on this issue. AFSC and UTCC have an extensive campaign in place providing contact information of all 30 members of the finance committee to drivers throughout the City. We urge you help us in our cam- paign to block this proposal. You can help by contacting Alderman Burke and Alderman Austin and voicing your opposition to this tax. Alderman Burke’s ward office: 773-471-1414 and the City Hall office: 312-744-3380. Alderman Austin’s Ward Office: 773-928-6961 and her City Hall Office: 312-744-6820.
-FAYEZ KOHZINDAR AND ADAM GURKE,
Program Director and Program Associate, Taxi Worker Organizing Project