Some Cities Tax Travelers More Than Others

August 4 2011 by Chris McGinnis
Comments (6)

The Global Business Travel Association has released the 2011 findings from its annual study of car rental, hotel and meal taxes in the top 50 U.S. travel destination cities- and the results might surprise you. For example, cities in Florida and California are cited as having the lowest taxes.

All taxes are not the same...some specifically target travelers, like Phoenix's $2.50 rental car fee that goes to the "Maricopa County Stadium for debt retirement." Or the 5% rental car tax imposed by San Antonio to fund "youth and amateur sports facilities."

Cities with the lowest overall total tax burden ($20-$25 per day) in central city locations:
1. Fort Lauderdale, FL
2. Fort Myers, FL
3. West Palm Beach, FL
4. Detroit, MI
5. Portland, OR

NOTE: The full list now includes many cities in California where the state sales tax recently declined a full percentage point.

Cities with the highest overall total taxes (around $35 per day) on travelers are:
1. Chicago, IL
2. New York, NY
3. Seattle, WA
4. Boston, MA
5. Kansas City, MO

The GBTA describes "discriminatory travel taxes" as those that are in addition to general sales taxes and are imposed specifically on travel services. The study reveals that these taxes and fees enacted on travel-related services impose an average increased cost on visitors of 56% over general sales tax and are often used to fund local projects unrelated to tourism and business travel.

The U.S. cities with the lowest discriminatory travel tax rates are:
1. Orange County, CA
2. San Diego, CA
3. San Jose, CA
4. Burbank, CA
5. Ontario, CA

Cities with the highest discriminatory travel taxes (those that single out travelers):
1. Portland, OR
2. Boston, MA
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. New York, NY
5. Chicago, IL

Do high local taxes encourage you to travel elsewhere or do you consider it just a cost of doing business?

Please leave your comments below.

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    By Kay on August 7, 2011 1:24 PM

    I would not avoid the high cost areas if I really wanted to go. However, if had choice of 2 areas, I would choose the less costly.
    The issue that is upsetting, when figuring your budget, hotel that looks like bargain is not so good when add taxes and surcharges.

    By Desmond O'Connor on August 24, 2011 6:08 PM

    Currently I am staying at the Best Western Tyler Texas where the sales tax is currently 13% 6% state and 7% city. On Sept 1st the city tax will go up to 9% bringing the overall sales tax upto 15%.

    Irregardless of the reason that a person travels to a location business travel etc in this economic times it taxes should be decreased to 10%. Or at least held at the cureent rate. Even staying at the current rate or increasing the tax bussiness is dropping off. 2% increase will reduced those checking into a hotel within the city limit. Dumb on part of the City of Tyle

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