Cities with the Best and Worst Travel Taxes

Laura Joszt

With extra taxes and fees on travel-related services, visitors can find they're paying 57% over general sales tax in some areas. As it is travelers are looking for the best deals on travel prices and now they can take a closer look at which U.S. cities are the worst offenders.

With extra taxes and fees on travel-related services, visitors can find they’re paying 57% over general sales tax in some areas. As it is travelers are looking for the best deals on travel prices and now they can take a closer look at which U.S. cities are the worst offenders.

A study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) looked into travel-related taxes in the top 50 U.S. travel destination cities. On top of general sales taxes, visitors are often charged extra discriminatory taxes that target car rentals, hotel stays and meals. These discriminatory travel taxes are targeted at travelers.

According to GBTA, these taxes are often used to fund local projects unrelated to tourism and business travel.

"Business travel is a key driver of economic growth, but overly burdensome taxes on business travel can often do more harm than good, especially when those taxes unfairly target visitors," Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation vice president of research, said in a statement. "Cities and states must think carefully about the sales that local businesses will lose because of the higher costs that travel taxes impose."

California and Florida had the cities with the lowest discriminatory travel rates. Meanwhile, Portland, Ore., had one of the lowest overall tax burdens, but the highest discriminatory travel tax rate.

GBTA ranked the top 50 U.S. cities where travelers incur the lowest tax burden in central city locations. Tax burden was calculated by factoring in general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes.

Lowest discriminatory tax burden

1. Burbank, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $1.81

With general taxes of $21.93, Burbank has the seventh lowest overall tax burden for combined single-day travel taxes.

2. Orange County, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $3.36

3. Ontario, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $4.66

4. San Diego, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $5.43

5. (tied) Los Angeles, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $5.95

5. (tied) Oakland, Calif.

Increase over general sales tax: $5.95

Highest discriminatory tax burden

1. Portland, Ore.

Increase over general sales tax: $22.45

Despite having the highest discriminatory tax burden Portland actually has the fourth lowest overall tax burden for single-day travel taxes because it has no general tax.

2. Boston, Mass.

Increase over general sales tax: $19.17

3. Chicago, Ill.

Increase over general sales tax: $16.49

4. New York, N.Y.

Increase over general sales tax: $15.74

5. Minneapolis, Minn,

Increase over general sales tax: $15.45