Tax office probe: Uber drivers operate illegally

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Hungary’s National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV) finished the scrutiny of Hungarian drivers working with the San Francisco-based ride-sharing service Uber, and reported finding irregularities for every single driver it investigated, Hungarian online daily origo.hu reported yesterday citing an announcement by the National Economy Ministry.

On the orders of National Economy Minister Mihály Varga, NAV officers scrutinized Hungarian Uber drivers through “trial purchases” and found irregularities with every driver they called, according to Origo. Those drivers can expect a fine of HUF 200,000, the portal reported. NAV did not say how many drivers they called.

“Trial purchases” are a common practice for NAV officers, who disguise themselves as regular customers and control whether a vendor adheres to the law.

According to the report by NAV, Uber drivers had no tax numbers and gave no receipt after the ride was completed. The cars had no taxi meters, drivers provided no invoice of the payment, and the drivers did not have taxi licenses, according to the report.

The ministry added that Uber drivers in Hungary can still expect further "trial purchases" in the future by NAV.

Uber has launched its service, which is available through a smartphone application, in more than 200 cities around the world.

The company advertises a base fare in Budapest of HUF 300 and a HUF 130 per-kilometer fee, while the base fare for Budapest taxis was set at HUF 450 with a per-kilometer fee of HUF 280 as per a decree established in September 2013. 

Approximately 60 cabs protested in mid-March in Budapest against Uber, precisely the service’s free promotion announced for a weekend in that same month. The protest involved a drive through the city center ending near the Castle District, according to Hungarian blog Kettősmérce.

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