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Travel taxes continue to climb

Back in June I blogged about how many cities and states depend on the kindness of strangers, AKA tourists and business travelers, to help add cash to their struggling treasuries.

The latest word from the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) Foundation is that travel-related taxes are going even higher. In many cases, the taxes are dedicated to local projects not connected to the travelers from whom they are collected.

The Alexandria, Va.-based travel group looks each year at car rental, hotel and meal taxes in the top 50 U.S. travel destination cities. The 2010 data indicates taxes and fees on travel-related services cost visitors an average 56 percent more than what's collected via general sales taxes.

In the most extreme tax cases, says the NBTA Foundation, the fees and taxes are 144 percent higher than normal levies.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - JULY 27: Kleber Vera, a bellman, at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne hotel wheels a guests luggage to their room on July 27, 2010 in Key Biscayne, Florida. According to data from Smith Travel research, hotel occupancy in South Florida has gone up when June of 2009 and June of 2010 are compared. Occupancy in June 2010 shows an almost 5 percent increase, which mirrors the national trend. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"It is unacceptable that visitors, whose general tax dollars can help to keep a community afloat in difficult economic times, are forced to pay so much more taxes and fees to fund projects unrelated to the services they purchase," NBTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Michael W. McCormick in releasing the study.

"Rest assured," added McCormick, "companies are taking notice of these unfair burdens when determining how and where to spend their business travel, meetings and events dollars."

Can you say teleconference and webinar?

Comparing travel tax costs: Chicago came in at number one in highest total travel taxes, edging past New York and Boston.

Portland, Ore., led the way in the list of cities that charge the highest discriminatory travel taxes. These are levies imposed specifically on travel services above and beyond general sales taxes. Boston came in second in this category.

So where should business travelers be booking events?

Despite Portland's high discriminatory taxes, the Pacific Northwest city came in third in the list of places with the lowest overall travel taxes. The others that ranked well here were Fort Lauderdale (1) and Fort Myers (2) in Florida, Detroit (4) and Honolulu (5).

The jurisdictions with the lowest discriminatory travel taxes were all in California: Orange County, San Jose, Burbank, San Diego and Ontario.

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Volunteer in latin America

Never thought of it that way, but it really does make sense now. A little bit in a hurry, didn't get to read everything but will definitely come back later to finish everything. This is my very first comment, I think I like this!

CPE Credits

Tourism dollars are extremely important in some markets especially in the Gulf of Mexico region at the present moment. To assist with the tourism declines the government should reduce these taxes temporarily in order to make it more affordable and offer an incentive for people to travel to these destinations.

Philippe Myer

I would just like to add that there are taxes involve in timeshare ownership. That's why some owners want to get out of their timeshares because of these fees.

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