Yesterday, a New York Assembly Member and the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) called for an investigation into ride-hailing company Lyft for allegedly cheating drivers out of certain wages. They claim the company is deducting New York State sales taxes and a “Black Car Fund” surcharge on interstate rides, even though they are only supposed to be applied to rides that both begin and end within the state. When drivers confronted Lyft about the mistaken charges, the company claimed they were other administrative costs, not taxes—even though they were the same exact rates as the actual taxes.
Lyft denies the charges, according to the Washington Post, claiming that it is completely upfront with drivers about what commissions and fees apply.
The letter was penned by Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, who represents areas of East Harlem and Randalls and Wards Islands. The IDG is an affiliate of the Machinists Union and advocates for ride-hailing drivers in New York City. IDG had a controversial start: it serves as a critical outlet for drivers and is recognized by companies like Uber, who have agreed to meet with the group every month; however, it is partially funded by Uber, and part of the deal involved a promise from the Machinists Union to refrain from attempting to unionize the drivers for five years. As one piece highlights, IDG has taken full advantage of this deal—largely to the benefit of its member-drivers.
Though their press release highlights instances of Lyft’s overcharging, they also call for the state to investigate similar companies—e.g., Uber and Juno—for the same misdeeds. The action comes at the heels of last week’s revelation that Uber had been underpaying its New York drivers over two-and-a-half years, taking a cut of commission before taxes and fees, instead of after.