GBTA Names Best, Worst Cities for Travel Taxes in 2013

Among the top 50 U.S. travel destinations, Chicago and New York continue to impose the highest travel-related taxes on visitors, while Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, Fla., continue to impose the lowest, finds an annual study of car rental, hotel and meal taxes by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Released today, the study found that discriminatory travel taxes and fees enacted on travel-related services — which often fund unrelated local projects — impose an average increased cost on visitors of 58 percent over general sales tax.

“Unfortunately, it’s not just state and local governments that see business travelers as their cash cow — the federal government is getting in the game,” GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said in a statement. “This week, Congress may consider a doubling of the TSA aviation security tax. Instead of driving TSA efficiencies that curb spending, Congress’ solution is to double the amount travelers pay. Road warriors strengthen the economy, create jobs and drive economic security. Yet governments insist on treating travelers like their ATM. These types of punitive travel taxes will ultimately push business travelers to stay home, and we all pay when governments take a short-sighted approach that raises the costs for business travel.”

When it comes to overall travel tax burden, which takes into account a city's general sales tax as well as travel-related taxes, the cities with the highest combined single-day travel taxes are:

1. Chicago ($41.04)
2. New York ($38.65)
3. Minneapolis ($36.70)
4. Kansas City, Mo. ($36.61)
5. Indianapolis ($36.00)
6. Cleveland ($35.41)
7. Boston ($35.32)
8. Seattle ($35.11)
9. Nashville ($34.75)
10. Houston ($34.16)

The cities with the lowest combined single-day travel taxes, meanwhile, are:

1. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. ($22.61)
2. Ft. Myers, Fla. ($22.61)
3. West Palm Beach, Fla. ($22.61)
4. Detroit ($22.80)
5. Portland, Ore. ($22.86)
6. Orange County, Calif. ($23.61)
7. Burbank, Calif. ($24.59)
8. Honolulu ($24.67)
9. Ontario, Calif. ($24.93)
10. Orlando ($24.94)

The GBTA Foundation also ranked cities based only on discriminatory travel taxes, excluding general sales tax, and found that the cities with the highest discriminatory increase over general sales tax are:

1. Portland, Ore. ($22.86)
2. Boston ($19.34)
3. Indianapolis ($18.10)
4. Minneapolis ($17.46)
5. Chicago ($17.39)
6. New York ($15.96)
7. Washington, D.C. ($15.61)
8. Kansas City, Mo. ($15.26)
9. Charlotte, N.C. ($15.16)
10. Milwaukee ($15.04)

Meanwhile, the destinations with the lowest discriminatory increase over general sales tax are:

1. Burbank, Calif. ($1.58)
2. Orange County, Calif. ($3.16)
3. Ontario, Calif. ($4.48)
4. San Diego ($5.27)
5. Oakland, Calif. ($5.79)
6. Tampa, Fla. ($7.27)
7. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. ($7.27)
8. Ft. Myers, Fla. ($7.27)
9. West Palm Beach, Fla. ($7.27)
10. Los Angeles ($7.37)

“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 GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research Joseph Bates. “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.”

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