Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Taxes and Taxis

In news coverage of the anticipated taxi drivers' strike, I haven't seen much attention devoted to an issue that two cabbies discussed with me Monday night: the possibility that installing GPS systems in taxis will make it harder for drivers to cheat on their taxes.

In an utterly unscientific survey, I asked the drivers who took me to and from the West Side how they felt about the GPS systems and the strike. My outbound driver had no problem with the GPS systems and opposed the strike. He claimed that drivers are angry because an automated system will accurately measure their earnings and make it harder for them to fudge their taxes.

My inbound driver disliked the GPS system and didn't like the idea of anyone monitoring where he drove. Yet he, too, said the GPS would make it harder for drivers to avoid paying taxes.

Is there anything to this belief that tax paying is at the bottom of this dispute? Please speak up--I'm not seeing anything on it in the Times, Post or News. I don't like tax cheats, but at the same time I don't like the idea of work where wages are so low that workers have to dodge taxes in order to bring home a decent amount of pay. What is going on here?

As for my own feelings on computer screens in the back of taxis, I thnk they're an annoyance. One the way home from JFK a week ago, I snagged a cab with one. The volume level split my ears. Over my children's objections, I insisted that we turn off the screen before it distracted the driver. The view out the window of a taxi is enough enertainment for me.

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