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October 02, 2012

Travel Taxes: How Much Is Your Trip Really Going to Cost?

By Kate Chandler

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Honolulu, Hawaii, has relatively low travel taxes (Corbis)

So you scored a great price on a hotel room in New York City? Or a killer rate on a rental car in Boston for your tour of New England? Or maybe you have all your meals budgeted out "just so" for a trip to Washington, D.C. Of course you know that you’ll have to pay sales tax on all these carefully researched purchases. But did you know that “travel taxes” can cost you an average of 57 percent on top of sales tax? Better get back to your trip-planning calculator!

Chicago tops the charts this year as the city where travelers will pay the most taxes, according to Global Business Travel Association’s recently released “Travel Taxes in the U.S.” report. When factoring in sales tax, plus additional specific taxes on hotel stays, car rentals, and meals, you can expect to spend an extra $40 per day in Chicago. That really starts to add up over a week-long stay! New York City and Boston were the next most-taxed cities, with travelers racking up nearly $38 and $35 extra per day, respectively.'s Chicago Travel Guide

Destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Portland, Oregon; and Honolulu, Hawaii, have some of the lowest overall travel-tax burdens, coming in at $22 to $24 extra per day. Ironically, Portland, Oregon, actually taxes travelers at the highest rate of any U.S. city, but because Oregon has no state sales tax, the overall tax burden on Portland visitors is still favorable when compared to other major destinations.'s Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

And just what do all these travel taxes pay for? Well, that varies from city to city. A lot of the money goes to tourism boards and other tourism-related entities. It pays for things like convention centers, sports and arts facilities, and overall improvements to the city… all of which make for a pleasant travel experience for visitors, and, of course, for a better place to live for residents.

Most NFL stadiums (and some baseball stadiums) are paid for by line-items in the travel-tax budget. So you should probably check out a game if you’re in an NFL town this fall. If you travel to Fort Myers, Florida, be sure to spend some time on the beach. Five percent of your nightly hotel taxes go toward beautifying the beaches there. And in Charlotte, North Carolina, 2 percent of your nightly hotel taxes fund the NASCAR Hall of Fame museum. Best pencil in a trip to this attraction during your next visit to The Queen City.'s Charlotte Travel Guide

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Related Topics: Travel News · US Travel


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