Will auto-sharing stay clear of new state taxes? This week could decide it

  • State Rep. Allen Skillicorn rents out his car using a smartphone app. The General Assembly voted to tax peer-to-peer car rentals, but a veto by Gov. Rauner has the issue in flux again.

      State Rep. Allen Skillicorn rents out his car using a smartphone app. The General Assembly voted to tax peer-to-peer car rentals, but a veto by Gov. Rauner has the issue in flux again. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, who rents out his car by using an app, says a plan to tax peer-to-peer rentals would create confusion and drive companies out of the state. The General Assembly approved the tax plan but a veto by Gov. Rauner has the issue in flux again.

      State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, who rents out his car by using an app, says a plan to tax peer-to-peer rentals would create confusion and drive companies out of the state. The General Assembly approved the tax plan but a veto by Gov. Rauner has the issue in flux again. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/26/2018 2:11 PM

It's a do-or-die week for auto-sharing platforms allowing people to rent out their personal vehicles.

The peer-to-peer car rental apps are a growing trend. They're not as dominant as Uber or Lyft, but one app, Turo, boasts more than 7,800 car owners in Illinois and about 289,000 users signed up to rent vehicles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The upstart apps, however, drew pushback from the car-rental industry. And amid concerns about safety and insurance, the General Assembly in May passed a bill levying taxes on car-shares similar to what big rental firms pay.

That's a kill switch for car-shares in Illinois, Turo officials said.

"The tax implications are very tough and would drive Turo out of the market," said Republican state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, who rents out his Prius with the HyreCar app.

In August, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto recommending fewer taxes. Now the issue's churning again in Springfield. The Senate overturned Rauner's veto Nov. 14 and the House is supposed to follow suit this week.

Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. David Welter of Morris just floated a bill offering a variety of compromises, which could be a game-changer.

Skillicorn, a frequent business traveler who doesn't want his Toyota sitting idle, charges about $20 a day. In return, he's met renters who are "really nice and respectful. They know they're getting it from a person, not a company."

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Tax implications are head-spinning, Skillicorn said, giving a scenario where he meets a renter from Indiana in Elgin. "Who should collect the taxes?" he asked.

Moreover, "I paid sales taxes on my car. Enterprise doesn't pay sales taxes," the lawmaker said.

The issue cuts across party lines. Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, who voted to preserve the veto, thinks Illinois "shouldn't be discouraging innovation and technology."

Fellow Democratic state Rep. Laura Murphy of Des Plaines supported the original bill because "something really needed to be done to put in some regulations and provide consumer protection."

Republican state Rep. Michael Fortner of West Chicago agrees but "my preference would have been for this to be negotiated between the traditional car-rental companies and the peer-to-peers," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Meanwhile, car-shares and car-rental interests are lobbying up a storm; Enterprise alone has donated more than $83,000 to lawmakers in 2018.

The odds last week favored a veto override but the ground could shift, said Fortner, who worked on legislation to reconcile Uber and taxi companies in 2014. "In the end, we found a middle ground," he said.

You should know

Just about a year ago, the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission voted on an interim overnight runway rotation. The rotation can't start, however, until the Federal Aviation Administration reviews and signs off. The FAA is expected to release a draft analysis in January, which will be followed by public workshops to explain the plan and get reaction, officials said. Why interim? It's temporary because the rotation would only last until late 2020 when a sixth runway at O'Hare International Airport will be built.

Train fun

The Chicago Transit Authority's annual Allstate Holiday Train featuring Santa Claus and all the reindeer is back in town for the season. But that's not all: An Elves Workshop train will also take passengers on Saturdays. For more information and schedules, go to transitchicago.com/holidayfleet.

One more thing

If you're out shopping in Schaumburg, one local attraction to check out might be the new westbound entrance ramp to the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) at Roselle Road. The ramp opened earlier this month after years of construction. As a result, there's a full interchange at I-90 and Roselle with access to westbound I-90 and from eastbound I-90, courtesy of a collaboration with Schaumburg, Cook County and the Illinois tollway.

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