PlanPhilly

Illegal again, Uber and Lyft have stopped paying taxes to the School District. Here’s what they already paid.

When a law temporarily authorizing transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Philadelphia sunset on September 30th, Lyft eagerly pointed towards a one percent tax on gross receipts that Philadelphia would lose. That tax was split between Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), which got one-third to cover TNC regulatory expenses, and the School District of Philadelphia.

A spokesperson for Lyft said the company had paid “tens of thousands of dollars” to the School District. Uber didn’t emphasize the lost tax revenues in its statements opposing its return to outlaw status, focusing its arguments on rider demands and driver employment. Neither company would reveal how much they actually paid during the 79 days of legal operations in Philadelphia following Act 85’s passage on July 13th.

So PlanPhilly asked the PPA instead.

Uber, doing business as Raiser-PA, LLC, paid $421,365 total with $280,924 going to the District and $140,441 to the PPA.  Lyft paid a total of $114,988, of which $76,659 went to the District and $38,329 to the PPA. Combined, the companies paid $536,353, sending $356,583 to Philadelphia schools and $178,769 to the PPA.

That averages out to Uber paying $5,334 a day in taxes ($3,556 to the School District) and Lyft, $1,456 ($970). Using tax receipts as a metric for market share, Uber controls 78 percent of Philadelphia’s TNC market, and Lyft 22 percent. That’s consistent with findings reported by The Economist, showing an 80-20 split between the two companies.

While pushing for a new bill to extend the legality of ride-hailing in Philadelphia, Lyft representatives provided reporters school-funding estimates purportedly based off the temporary framework provided by Act 85. In “Year 1” the School District could expect an estimated $1.7 - 3.4 million. In “Year 2”, that estimate rose to $7 million.

Taking the daily averages and simply multiplying by 365 days, Lyft was on pace to send around $354,000 to Philly Schools, and Uber another $1,298,000. Combined, the two were on pace for $1,652,000 — just shy of the $1.7 million low-end estimate provided by Lyft.

All of that is a fraction of the $10 million the PPA sent the School District in the last fiscal year, most of which comes from on-street parking profits. And it’s all a drop in the bucket compared to the District’s $2.8 billion budget.

A spokesperson for Lyft declined to discuss the figures on the record, and emailed this statement: “Lyft continues to grow quickly in Philadelphia. It's critical the legislature pass a statewide framework that reflects this growth and preserves the majority of revenue from ridesharing for the City's schools.”

Historically, taxi trips and revenues dip in the summer as Philadelphians escape city heat for vacations down the Shore and in the Poconos. Presumably, TNC numbers during the July-September would also be slightly lower than other months, which would skew PlanPhilly’s projections lower. 

About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's transportation reporter, which means he focuses on how Philly bikes, walks, drives, rolls, and rides around the region. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate, Philadelphia City Paper, and Technical.ly Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at jsaksa@whyy.org.



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