As Hawaii News Now reported last week, the Turo car sharing app is gaining popularity in Hawaii.
Hundreds of car owners are now renting out their personal cars in competition with traditional car rental companies.
Like the other on-line enablers, the personal rent-a-car business is mostly hidden from the state tax department.
Car rental companies pay the state excise and income taxes, and rental car fees. People renting out their personal cars are highly unlikely to voluntarily pay all that, and certainly don't carry the costs of facilities and airport leases.
They can easily undercut the competition.
All of these digital platforms are here to stay and grow, and are already doing damage to our tax base and to their brick-and-mortar competitors.
But as usual, government leaders seem to be caught like deer in headlights by the phenomenon.
This should be an urgent priority. If the federal state and local governments cooperate, they should be able to follow the money, collect the taxes and fees and enforce appropriate regulations.
We can't afford another year of trying to figure this out.