CT Car Wash Association: Car wash sales tax has had negative impact on jobs, our industry and the economy.

Letter to the editor submitted by Bob Rossini, President of the Connecticut Car Wash Association

Dear Editor:

A recent letter to Greenwich Free Press written by Mr. Sean Goldrick (Goldrick: Greenwich Republicans Push for Tax Break for their Friends July 12, 2018) was inaccurate, misleading, and inflammatory towards thousands of men and women who work in the car wash industry in Connecticut.

The “facts” that he cites were politically motivated and defamed one of the best operators in the state and our entire industry as well.

The car wash industry in Connecticut is run by many independent, family-owned, small businesses that provide an important service to the motoring public in a safe, clean and environmentally sensitive way.

The Connecticut Car Wash Association represents these companies and employees that provide consistent quality services throughout our state. We advocated for the repeal of the sales tax on car washes on behalf of our members  because the sales tax has had a direct and measurable negative impact on jobs, our industry and the economy.

The imposition of the sales tax on car washes has greatly harmed the industry and its customers and caused an unfair playing field for certain businesses on the state border like those in Greenwich.

Despite what Mr. Goldrick may claim in his incendiary piece, here are the true facts:

First, there had never been a sales tax on car washes until 1989, and then it was repealed shortly thereafter when it was found to be so unworkable, cost too much to track and collect and ended up being overall harmful, that it was repealed very quickly.

It was then re-imposed as part of a back-room deal, with no public hearing and no public input as part of a revenue grabbing budget deal.

Second, there is an inherent lack of fairness with imposing this tax on car washes but not on other coin-op machines that are not taxed. Those include parking meters, laundromats, newspaper vending machines and arcade/game halls. Why are certain machines taxed, but others not?

Third, the logistics of re-imposing the tax on car wash services has become a large burden on both the state, business and consumes because of the mechanical nature of many of the systems.

The car wash equipment in the industry is not designed to accept nickels, dimes or pennies, and many of the operations do not have an attendant. To collect a sales tax on top of it has in effect become a “double-taxation” on customers.

Fifth, car washes employ many entry level workers who use the workplace opportunities that car washes provide to build a better life for them and their families. The re-imposition of the tax has impacted the operators who continue to employ them.

Sixth, as part of our local charitable efforts, Connecticut car washes donate hundreds of free car washes for local non-profit and charitable organizations every year in the state.

Finally, regarding his attacks on the State Senator and State representatives from Greenwich? Once again, he has mangled facts and missed the mark. The Connecticut Car Wash Association is very proud that the Greenwich delegation stood up and sponsored the legislation, but we are equally proud of the other members of the General Assembly from Southington, Enfield, Wallingford and throughout the state who also sponsored the legislation.

He may also be surprised to find out that the HG 5009 was passed out of the Finance Committee with overwhelming bi-partisan, Democrats and Republicans (51 to 0!) with strong support from every corner of the State!

Unlike Mr. Goldrick, many of the men and women who enter this field may not have the advantages of individuals in Greenwich.They work hands on every day to clean cars and provide environmentally sound procedures.

I want to let you know that we provide an important jobs function in our local and state economy and our industry was dramatically impacted by the new tax. You may not be aware that car washes employ thousands of entry-level workers and provide a solid paycheck for them and their families. Adding additional taxes and costs to the business has hurt them and the businesses.

It would be helpful in the future, if Mr. Goldrick truly wants to understand the issue, to get the real facts from the many locally owned small businesses that make up our industry and not politically  demagogue an industry that provides such an important service and employs so many in our local and state economy.

Sincerely, Bob Rossini
Connecticut Car Wash Association