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New RI taxes on taxis, pet services reconsidered

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Pet groomers and taxi drivers urged Rhode Island lawmakers on Thursday to repeal new sales taxes on their services, less than a year after the General Assembly voted to impose the taxes.

A state Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would eliminate the taxes. The bills' sponsor, Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, said the taxes are burdening small businesses already struggling with a lackluster economy.

Several pet groomers and taxi cab drivers agreed, telling lawmakers that the tax is hurting business and forcing them to think about relocating out of state.

"My lease is up in a year, and I've already thought about moving up the road to Massachusetts," said Anne DuPere, owner of a pet grooming business in Tiverton. "I love Rhode Island, but it's killing me."

Lawmakers voted last year to impose the 7 percent sales taxes on pet grooming and boarding, taxi fares and items of clothing costing $250 or more. The new taxes went into effect Oct. 1.

All together, the new taxes are estimated to raise $12 million for the state annually.

No vote on the legislation to repeal the taxes has been scheduled.