At the end of June the Swedish Parliament voted in favour of the government bill ‘Accounting Centres for taxi’. A new law stipulates that anyone with a taxi licence must transmit meter data to ‘accounting centres’ who, in turn, send these data to the tax authorities. The main purpose of this measure is to facilitate the tax agency to make tax audits. The taxi industry also hoped that every taxi would have to have a taxi meter. Exemptions are still possible, as the government didn’t want to go that far.
The Swedish taxi industry reacted positively to the new measures. For many years Svenska Taxiförbundet, the Swedish Taxi Association, worked to clean up the taxi industry and to curb abuse. “Most importantly, each meter is tied to a specific vehicle. This means that not only time and distance are recorded, but also who sat behind the wheel.” The association has worked long and hard for equal competition (‘a level playing field’) and to keep companies with ‘rogue practices’ out of the industry.
Since the Swedish taxi market was deregulated in 1990, more than 30 billion Skr. has been withheld from taxation. Nowadays the black turnover is upwards of a billion Skr. annually on a total turnover of 14 billion Skr. The main culprit is the lack of oversight, coupled with a weak law which does not regulate how the taxi business revenues should be checked.
For nearly a decade, the Swedish Taxi Association collaborated with among others the Swedish Construction Federation, the Swedish Road Haulage Companies, Sweden Laundry Association, Barber Enterprises and a number of agencies to create honest industries without tax and benefit fraud. “Unfortunately the government has not dared to repeal the ability to grant exemptions from the obligation to have a meter”, commented the Swedish Taxi Association. “This means that the responsibility continues to lie with the Transport Agency, which so far has not shown good judgment in granting exemptions”. Today, more than 1.500 taxis, or just over 9 percent of the industry’s taxi fleet, are exempted from the taximeter requirement.
The Association hopes that between 2014 and 2018 the government will take its responsibility to formulate a complementary proposal to stop taximeter exemptions.