Taxi drivers’ income: on average 15,000 euros per year. Here’s what they say from Rome to Milan

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For some it was a bit of a flop. For others, an “irrelevant” protest given the already limited number of white cars in circulation. The fact is that the taxi drivers’ lockout against the Asset decree, which aims to open the market with an injection of new licenses, revolves on a pivot: the defense of a closed, contingent, impregnable business, based on a very expensive licensing market. Digging into the tax returns filed with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, a picture of a permanent crisis emerges. Which doesn’t fit well with the deserted lay-bys and the kilometric queues of tourists and citizens waiting for a taxi in big cities this summer.

What emerges from tax returns

According to the data collected on a tax basis in the Ateco code “49.32.10 – taxi transport” and which brings together natural persons, partnerships, flat-rate companies, cooperative companies and joint-stock companies, the gross annual incomes declared to the tax authorities between 2017 and 2019 are stuck at just over 15 thousand euros, per month on average just over 1,250 euros gross per month. The numbers fluctuate but only slightly if you consider that in 2017 the average income stood at 15,196 euros and that in 2018 it became 15,828, in 2019 15,499. In 2020 the pandemic makes itself felt: incomes collapse to 3,770 euros (2021 data are still being processed). The levels vary greatly from city to city but are stable for each individual municipality over time with the exception of Covid, obviously. In the capital, for example, they range from 13,282 euros in 2017 to 12,817 in 2019, passing through 13,843 euros in 2018. In Milan the same thing goes: 19,766 euros for 2017, 20,718 in 2018 and 19,591 in 2019. Those who declare the most are the taxi drivers of Bologna with 20,298 euros in 2019 which however in 2017 were 15,465 euros. The “poorest” in Naples: here they went from 3,751 euros in 2017 to 6,275 euros in 2019, half of Rome.

INCOME DECLARED BY AUTO BIANCHE

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The licensing business

The picture must also be read by taking into account the great theme that has taken center stage in the controversy surrounding the Urso decree in recent days. And it’s an entirely Italian theme, moreover. We are talking about the license market which, according to the estimates of the regional directorates of the Revenue Agency reported by Repubblica, fluctuate from a minimum of 140-150 thousand euros in Rome and Milan to a maximum of 250 thousand euros in Florence. Unapproachable figures if you consider that the average Italian taxi driver earned 1,291 euros gross per month in 2019. Yet the market exists and is thriving, to the point that it is tempting even for citizens who do not want to lose 20% of the proceeds from the new licenses. The Bersani law n. 248/2006 in article 6 introduced the possibility for Municipalities to grant permits “free of charge or for a fee”. In that provision there is also the division of the proceeds from sales: 20% to the Municipality and 80% to the taxi drivers. Let’s do the math. Considering the Campidoglio’s objective of issuing 1,000 new permanent licences, this is a 150 million euro “round”: 120 million in the pockets of the “old” taxi drivers and 30 million in the Municipality’s coffers.

Many have turned their mouths against the licensing business, considering it the real cap on the liberalization of the sector. The sale of authorization titles is possible because licenses in Italy are granted sine die. They have no expiry date, unlike what happens in almost all European countries.

The sector in the EU

According to a study by Bocconi for the EU Commission, together with Italy only Spain provides a mechanism for qualifications issued without any expiry. In France the licenses are assigned for 5 years and are no longer transferable since 2015. Two-year permits and five-year concessions in Germany where the transfer to third parties is excluded while in Holland the “certificate of good conduct” necessary to drive a white car together with other titles have a duration of five years and, being personal, cannot be transferred. The licensing market does not exist outside Italy for the simple fact that the licenses always remain available to the PA. They cannot be sold or bought.



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