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Top 5 cities that discriminate against travelers

Do you feel ripped off when you book a great hotel or car rental rate, but end up paying a final bill loaded up with taxes and fees? (That are used to fund things you’ll likely never use such as local stadiums or convention centers…)

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 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

*12. San Jose ($23.69 per day)

*21. Oakland ($27.01 per day)

*24. San Francisco ($27.90 per day)

NOTE: The full list now includes many cities in California now that state sales tax has declined a full percentage point.

Cities with the highest 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

Discriminatory travel taxes are those imposed specifically on travel services above and beyond general sales taxes (like the ones imposed on airport car rentals to fund local projects).

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 you have any examples of outrageous taxes you’ve been forced to pay recently? Do taxes that seem to discriminate against travelers encourage you to travel elsewhere, or do you just grumble and pay up? Please leave your comments below.



  • Chris

    I totally check out the discriminitory fees and rent a car off airport almost all of the time. Many times just over the city limits such as in Inglewood, CA near LAX.
    The ‘Tea Party’ should take this up as it truly is “taxation without representation.”

  • Disgusted

    I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have to pay a 8% state tax on the stadium extortion shakedown ..eerr..I mean Arena fee in Kansas City, Mo. Seems state tax should be charged on the base, not base plus all the fees.

  • Dan

    Minneapolis car rental fees are quite obscene. I booked a two week rental for $535 but fees were $206, or 38.5% of the cost of my rental. Ridiculous!

    Taxes, Surcharges and Fees
    Rental Auto Facility Charge 2.00/day $28.00
    Concession Recovery Fee 11.11 % $62.54
    Vehicle Rental Fee 5 % $31.11
    Car Rental Tax 6.2 % $38.57
    Sales Tax (7.2750%) $45.49