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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
Jens Hompland owns two cars, but rarely drives his 2014 Honda Insight. Instead he uses it to make money through a carshare app called Turo.
"I was a little bit apprehensive at first because you are letting someone off the internet who’ve you’ve never met before essentially drive your car," he said.
Turo is based in San Francisco. It operates what’s growing into an international a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace.
Hompland started renting out his car in March, charging about $35 a day. That rate for am air-conditioned vehicle attracts cost-conscious customers.
"It’s a hybrid so it saves them a lot of gas," he said.
Renters search Turo’s website and select a vehicle. The company confirms their driver’s license. The parties then meet to turn over the car and keys. Turo’s members are independent contractors.
Hompland also drives for a ride-share company so he knows about taxes.
"I set aside a certaiin percentage of all the money that I make for filing taxes," he said.
But former state tax director Ray Kamikawa thinks many other Turo members might not be paying.
"It’s a self-assessed tax. The owners are probably not aware that they’re subject to the General Excise Tax or income tax on this revenue," he said.
Turo insists it isn’t a rental car company, but the American Car Rental Association argues that it is.
"All entities in the business of renting motor vehicles to consumers for a profit must abide by the same set of rules and pay the same taxes and fees," ACRA said in an August press release.
The argument is the same used by taxi companies against Uber and Lyft.
"All of these new models and platforms generate interesting tax questions," Kamikawa said. "It’s very difficult for the tax department to keep up with these developments."
As for insurance, Turo said its policy covers the vehicles while they are being rented.
"The insurance provided via Turo through its insurance partner, Liberty Mutual, is compliant with all requirements in Hawaii," Turo’s communications director Steven Webb said.
He said Turo doesn’t break down statistics by region, but a check of its website Friday showed more than 200 vehicles available for rent on Oahu. Webb said there are about 170,000 vehicles listed nationwide.
Hompland has rented his Honda to people from the neighbor islands and the mainland, and he said they’ve all enjoyed the ride.
"I’ve had all five star ratings — out of five stars!" he said.
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