Massachusetts’ Tax on Ride Sharing is Corporate Welfare at Its Worst


August 25, 2016 11:42AM

If you haven’t heard, Massachusetts recently decided to ignore basic fairness and economics, opting to tax ridesharing giants Lyft and Uber in order to fund their competitors, the taxi cartel. From here on out, Lyft and Uber drivers will have to give 5 cents of every ride directly to the taxi industry. Something that has been less publicized and only makes matters worse, these drivers will also be forced to give an additional 5 cents per ride to public transportation, which is another, albeit more indirect competitor to ridesharing.

Many people who are smarter than I am have discussed this ridesharing issue in far more depth. However, the point I am going to make is that many conservatives who are livid about this clear violation of free market principles seem perfectly content with corporate welfare in almost all other situations. While the Massachusetts example is extreme in the fact that tax dollars are going directly from one business to a competitor, this practice happens indirectly on a consistent basis right here in Tennessee.

A furniture store in Memphis paying taxes to help subsidize a competitor like Ikea is just as unfair and antithetical to the principles of conservatism as the Uber-taxi situation, and one would hope that this would be a natural logical conclusion. Unfortunately, we have found the exact opposite. Many people on the right quickly forsake their allegiance to the free market when they believe it leads to government-funded “job-creation.”

Whether the government is giving a company a large sum of taxpayer money to move into a city or just allowing them to pay a much lower tax rate than their competitors, it is absolutely not the government’s job to pick winners and losers. One of the ultimate goals of those on the right is low taxes for all. It’s important to remember that when faced with a supposed contradiction in principle. Businesses should succeed or fail based on what they provide consumers, not who they know in government. The taxi union in Massachusetts proved that who you know is more important than what you provide in that state. It is time we take a stand as a state and chart a different pathway forward, one where all businesses pay the same low tax rate.