My name is Damon Crutcher and I’m a veteran of the U.S. Army. As a member of the 4th Infantry Division, I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan twice. Since leaving the military, I’ve been back twice more as a security contractor for the State Department.
While deployed to Afghanistan last year, I tried a new car sharing app called Turo to help me earn a bit of extra cash by letting Phoenix-area Turo users drive my 2013 Toyota Tacoma while it was sitting idle at home. It was an easy way for me to make some money during a time in my life when I needed it – remember: car payments, rent and other everyday expenses don’t go away for service members, security personnel and our families when we get deployed.
Besides, my vehicle was collecting dust while I was overseas; placing it on Turo seemed like a no-brainer.
Imagine my surprise to hear opponents of Turo and similar car sharing apps say there’s something wrong with what I did. They talk about Turo users like we’re deadbeats, rattling off concerns about how car sharing may impact revenue to local governments or to build Cactus League stadiums.
Excuse me? I paid sales tax when I purchased the vehicle, plus Vehicle License Tax every year. Not to mention my truck is my personal property. If I want to supplement my income by letting someone else use my vehicle for a day or more that should be my decision.
Who would want to stand in the way of that? I’ll tell you who: Enterprise.
Enterprise is the nation’s largest car-rental company, a mega conglomerate spanning 9,000 locations and more than $24 billion in annual revenue, according to Forbes. You read that right – a $24 billion company is worried about competition from the likes of me.
Now, Enterprise is pulling out all the stops to kill car sharing in Arizona. They’ve enlisted lawmakers to write heavy-handed legislation (SB 1305) that would regulate car sharing apps like Turo out of existence.
Enterprise says I’m a rental car company and that Turo users like me don’t pay our fair share. No, I’m just a guy with a truck who wanted to make a few extra bucks while I was posted overseas. In fact, 1 in 5 Arizona Turo users are active duty military or veterans just like me.
What Enterprise doesn’t mention is the sweet deal that allows car rental companies in Arizona to purchase their vehicle fleets tax-free – a $24 million giveaway each and every year. Where do I sign up?
Those of us who use a car sharing app aren’t asking for a free ride. We simply believe this is a new and unique industry worthy of its own set of regulations, just as Arizona has carved-out for ridesharing, short-term rentals and other aspects of the sharing economy.
HB 2559 strikes the right balance. This legislation establishes guidelines for public safety and insurance – every Turo user is covered by a $1 million liability policy – and ensures car sharing transactions are taxed appropriately. This way, municipalities, the Cactus League and the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority receive their same share of revenue regardless of whether a vehicle is reserved via an Enterprise car-rental counter or Turo car sharing app.
The question for Arizona is whether our state is going to remain welcoming to sharing economy innovations or bend to the whim of a $24 billion company scared of a guy with a 2013 Toyota Tacoma.
Damon Crutcher, 30, is a veteran of the U.S. Army and security contractor for the U.S. Department of State. He lives in Gilbert.