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Transportation providers allege Uber Puerto Rico is evading taxes

By on August 3, 2017

SAN JUAN – Ride-hailing service company Uber could be avoiding paying taxes, the president of Puerto Rico Operadores, Turísticos, Guías y Excursionistas (Protege), which  groups tourism transportation providers, claimed Thursday.

José Poupal also said that requests to multiple government entities to investigate the situation have been unsuccessful, while the legal battle and the bill to address regulations for taxi and Uber drivers remains stalled.
As Popual explained that one of the elements that has raised concern within his organization is a tax return form belonging to an Uber driver, whose name was erased to protect their identity, in which the driver’s income was detailed under “Commissions and Fees.” Uber’s drivers should have received a form corresponding to professional services.

“On Dec. 31, 2016, the former Treasury secretary, Mr. [Juan] Zaragoza issued an administrative order, which is Treasury Department Administrative Order 16-16 and it establishes that the Uber platform is categorized as a corporation that will [use] professional services,” Poupal said. “Under Administrative Order 16-16, it is established that the [form] Uber Puerto Rico LLC has to provide its independent contractor partners is…professional services,” he added.

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Besides the controversy raised regarding Form 480, during the press conference there was a reference to a report from another Uber subsidiary in California, which establishes that earnings were calculated based on commissions, not professional services.

The Protege president reiterated that the group has sought meetings at the governor’s office, La Fortaleza; the Legislature; and the Treasury and Justice departments, but hasn’t received confirmation that the situation will be investigated.

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“We have been asking the government and the Treasury Department. We have been asking the Government of Puerto Rico and nobody has been able to confirm that Uber complied with the [form] and the [taxing] of professional services from these independent contractors,” he stressed.
In the case of the Legislature, Poupal said “the Senate was asked and several members from the Senate and House said that the way Uber was structured made it difficult for them to make them pay taxes.”

As for the legal battle, Popual said they do not rule out going to the Court of Appeals to request a recourse to accelerate the  case, whose hearing took place in February.

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