Exempt Carsharing Members from Rental Car Tax

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    Washington State and King County decisionmakers
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As Washington and King County residents and members of Flexcar Seattle carsharing, we believe that members of carsharing organizations should specifically be exempt from local rental-car taxes.

Carsharing members are overwhelmingly local residents, not visitors -- unlike most rental car customers. By serving as an alternative to private vehicle ownership, carsharing has been demonstrated to decrease members driving and to increase our use of alternative transportation modes, and thus to confer multiple benefits to cities where it operates.

As members know, carsharing differs from traditional car rental in important ways, and is characterized by:

Self-service reservation, pickup, and return
Membership basis, with applicants required to be approved via driving background check and by establishing a payment mechanism
Use by the hour or by the day, with short, several-hour trips most common
Rates include gas and insurance
Vehicle sites are geographically distributed, and are most often located at or near transit.

Carsharing has been shown to positively influence transportation behavior. Specifically, carsharing:

Leads many members to sell or to delay or entirely avoid purchasing a personal vehicle
Takes 5 to 15 vehicles off the road for every carsharing vehicle in service
Increases public transit ridership while effectively extending and complementing public transit
Increases walking and bicycling for transportation
Facilitates use of low-emissions and hybrid vehicles common in carsharing fleets.

Car rental has not been shown to yield similar beneficial effects.

King County and Seattle can be justifiably proud to be the incubator and home of the first national carsharing company in the U.S. -- Flexcar. The Seattle region is home to over 300 carsharing vehicles, used by 20,000 Flexcar carsharing members. Carsharing also serves Vancouver, WA (Flexcar Portland), Bellingham (Community CarShare) and Bremerton (SCOOT).

In sum, because carsharing is distinct from traditional car rental, with local customers, locally based operators, and local benefits, we urge the decisionmakers of Washington State and King County to specifically exempt carsharing members from local rental car taxes. Thank you for your consideration and action.