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Look out for these taxes while vacationing

Spontaneous getaways definitely are appealing, but for most of us, vacations take planning.

Not only do we have to reach a family consensus on where to go and when to take the trip, we also have to make financial arrangements.

If you're in the midst of summer break budgeting, you'd better factor in a few more dollars for taxes.

This year, added car rental levies are the most daunting expenses, according to Deborah Weinstein in Travel tax traps to avoid this summer.

Weinstein cites research by the National Business Travel Association that shows the national average tax rate on car rentals -- a combination of state, local and car rental company levies -- at the top 50 business travel airports has reached 13.8 percent.

The hike is not a surprise as cash-strapped cities and states are taxing everything they can. Plus, it's always better politically to put the tax burden on visitors who are just passing through.

Other tax increase to be on the lookout for as you travel include:

  • Hotel taxes. These levies are the most obvious designed to ding tourists, not voting locals.
  • Online hotel booking fees. Cities are taking legal action to get what they say is their fair share from online lodging reservation sites.
  • Timeshare tax. This appears to be limited to Florida, for the moment anyway.
  • Camping fees. Trying to cut lodging costs by camping still can cost you, as several states have taken to charging (or charging more) for spots to pitch tents in their parks.
  • Airline tickets taxes. This is no secret, but the rates seem to be multiplying, now including a federal ticket tax, a "9/11 fee" for security services and segment taxes.
  • Restaurant taxes. These can cost locals looking to escape the kitchen, too, but the prime target is out-of-towners who must eat out.
  • Sporting fees. If you hunt or fish, expect to pay more for state licenses.

You can find details on these taxes and how they've grown in a Forbes slide show.

Good tax news for seafaring vacationers: If you're planning to see the natural wonders of Alaska from the deck of a cruise ship, there's some good tax news for you.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell last month signed a measure into law that drops the state's per passenger tax from $46 to $34.50. There are even deeper offsets for ships stopping in at least one of two popular ports, Juneau and Ketchikan.

The tax had been approved by Alaskans in 2006 as a way to help finance port infrastructure needed to accommodate large ships.

The cruise industry, however, was ready to go to court to fight the Last Frontier's tax as onerous and discriminatory against larger vessels. The lawsuit was scrapped after Parnell signed the lower-tax bill.

Regardless of where and how you take your summer break, bring along a few extra dollars just in case. And enjoy yourself!

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Ellen Smith

Vacation and travelling on holidays can be costly and expensive so you are indeed right that you need not only reach the family consensus and agree on where you're taking the trip but that you have to financially plan for it too.

However, it may be expensive I still think that it's the best reward you can give your self for all the hardworks you've been doing.

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