Highway Robbery : Local taxes on travelers. Who are the worst culprits?

While putting out a welcome sign with one hand, THEY are picking your pockets with the other.  What I am talking about, you ask? US Local Governments of course: As a traveler, you are being robbed with involuntary visitor taxes.

A Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) report studies this where the Worst 10 and the Best 10, are shown in the following two tables. (Note on the methodology is that it used same hotel rate, car rate and restaurant food bill to calculate the added tax).

400px-Al_Capone-around_1935

Alphonse Gabriel, role model for Local Govt. Tax policy on travelers.

The top 10 U.S. cities where travelers incur the highest total tax burden in central city locations, factoring in general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes

Rank in
2013
Highest Total Tax Burden
Combined single day travel taxes
Rank in
2012
1
Chicago, IL
$41.04
1
2
New York, NY
$38.65
2
3
Minneapolis, MN
$36.70
6
4
Kansas City, MO
$36.61
4
5
Indianapolis, IN
$36.00
8
6
Cleveland, OH
$35.41
7
7
Boston, MA
$35.32
3
8
Seattle, WA
$35.11
5
9
Nashville, TN
$34.75
9
10
Houston, TX
$34.16
10

The top 10 U.S. cities where travelers incur the lowest total tax burden in central city locations, factoring in general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes, are:

Rank in
2013
Lowest Total Tax
Burden
Combined single
day travel taxes
Rank in
2012
1
Fort Lauderdale, FL
$22.61
1
2
Fort Myers, FL
$22.61
2
3
West Palm Beach, FL
$22.61
3
4
Detroit, MI
$22.80
4
5
Portland, OR
$22.86
5
6
Orange County, CA
$23.61
6
7
Burbank, CA
$24.59
7
8
Honolulu, HI
$24.67
9
9
Ontario, CA
$24.93
8
10
Orlando, FL
$24.94
10

“Municipalities are under pressure to raise revenue wherever they can, but imposing too heavy a tax burden on business travel is a shortsighted strategy,” said Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research. “With taxes rising in every area of society, companies and travel managers are taking an increasingly hard look at the price they’re being asked to pay to visit any given city or region.”

Chicago is up there as a high runner but Houston, a city we know very well is up there at number 10.

Recently we stayed in Houston on business in a the Crown Plaza Houston, just off 59. Here is an excerpt of our hotel charges for 1 night stay. The corporate rate for our room was $114. The total taxes were a further 18.6%. Not only that, but look how many there are – We’ve never seen 5 different room taxes.

What is more is the Sharpstown District fee: What Gaul! We know Houston very well. We therefore know Sharpstown. We don’t get it as there is NOTHING in Sharpstown worth visiting.  It is as ugly as an anal wart. Even the location of the Hotel is just off the Freeway and not even in Sharpstown proper. A visitor is unlikely to use any of your services and this is nothing but low grade extortion. Shame on you.

Car rental is the other area of involuntary taxation but at least the car rental companies are not on board with this.  The ‘Coalition Against Discriminatory Car Rental Excise Taxes’ is an organization to lobby against this. They have a website rentalcartax.com that is easier to pronounce that the full name. On their site, they have a wall of shame that shows the Stadiums that Roam’ns are paying for when the rent cars. I see Reliant Statium of Houston up there.

What is more the website shows a list (from GBTA study) that shows ranking by 50 cities of their respective taxes on a $55.99 rental. You should not be surprised to see Chicago there as number 1 with a 20% rate. Al Capone would be proud Chicago. Unfortunately we don’t know the date of that report but we wouldn’t hold our breath to expect it to have changed much.

Since those scoundrel politicians have no votes from you, they are unlikely to change their policies of taxing their guests.

Thus we have the only option left to us: Economic boycott. This is more of interest to the private traveler instead of the business traveler but if you must visit these high taxing places on your own money, spend as little time there as possible.

If you must stay there, look at staying in different counties : For example Fort Bend County instead of Harris County or look at even staying in a different city.

If you must travel there, consider not taking your usual rental car – get a shuttle – or downgrading to get the least out of you.

Let’s get the word out. Let’s shame them. Let’s feed them to the lions.

Augustus
 

Head Emperor of Roam. Originally born Gaius Octavius in 63BC, Augustus has great deal of experience running empires, dealing with civil wars, subdueing barbarian tribes and that sort of thing. Currently living in Katy, Texas, Mr Caesar is the architect of modern day Roam with aspirations of starting up a new virtual empire. In his spare time Augustus is a family man.