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Lawmakers Work To Build Framework For Carsharing Companies

A red car in front of the palm trees
Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Let’s imagine the pandemic has ended and you’re ready to head off for vacation. You might be flying to your destination. Will you park your car at the airport and pay the fees? Peer-to-peer car renting through an online platform offers another option, that Avail spokesperson Geroge Feijoo says lets your car earn you money while you’re away.

Avail is a Carsharing platform.

"Any of that revenue that is made while your car is on the platform, you’re going to get it. We inspect the car before anybody ever gets in it. You come back from holiday. The person who has used it has returned it to the same lot at the airport. We inspect it, give it a free carwash and we give it back to you,” Feijoo says.

But Florida lawmakers say most peer-to-peer car rental companies aren't paying sales taxes. A pair of bills moving through the legislature would create rules about sales tax collection, insurance requirements and liability.

Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainsville) is sponsoring the Senate version.

“This bill represents an agreement by stakeholders on the issues of consumer protection, insurance, taxation related to peer-to-peer carsharing programs," Perry says.

Despite Perry’s assurance, the legislation has been agreed to by the stakeholders involved, some lawmakers say they have concerns. Sen. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) is worried about the insurance requirements.

“What happens in a situation if there’s an accident and there’s excess liability. Who pays for it," Berman asked.

Perry says the bill requires the same kind of insurance coverage an average person needs to drive their personal car and Feijoo says that makes sense because cars rented through peer-to-peer car sharing are driven as personal cars.

“This is carsharing, not ridesharing. Ridesharing is Uber, Lyft. So that is taxiing somebody around using your own car, a commercial use of a vehicle. That increases the risk. You’re actually using your car the whole day driving around the whole day looking to pick up somebody for a fair," Feijoo says. "This is carsharing... It’s you letting your car out for somebody else’s use. Not you driving them around. Why is this a key difference? It’s because of the nature of the use of the car. This is personal use of a car—very similar to what you would use a rental car for.”

Some have also raised concerns about a provision that would charge a sale tax for rentals through car sharing platforms.

Right now, a standard rental car company does charge and remit sales tax, but it does not have to pay sales tax when it purchases a car for its fleet. Some have raised concerns the measure moving through the legislature would put private owners renting their cars on a carsharing platforms on an uneven playing field because they'd be taxed when they purchased their cars and again when they rent it. But Perry says the transactions should be seen for what they are.

“These are rentals. It’s called carsharing, but these are rentals and they should be taxed,” Perry says.

House sponsor, Rep. Mike Caruso (R-Boca Raton) points out people using a care sharing platform could skip paying sales tax when they purchase their cars if they’re buying the car just to rent it on the carsharing platform and intend to use the car for commercial purposes only.