4. Vacation (or business travel) taxes
So, I found a great deal on a rent-a-car for the weekend. Sure, it’s a peanut-sized vehicle which will risk the life of everyone foolish enough to get inside and hurtle down L.A. freeways, but the price is right – $12 a day!
Whoa, there, intrepid car renter. Hold on a minute. There’s the little matter of some taxes and “fees” to be added to that price which will nudge it up, just a wee bit. Surely not half again as much, like in our cell phone story, right?
Of course not! Try more than double. That’s right! The real per-day price of my rental car, after the airport tax, tourism tax, facility tax, state tax, and vehicle license fee recovery tax (?) is a whopping $25.39. Meaning my 3-day weekend wheels which I thought would run me around $36 will instead inch a whole lot closer to $80. And the rental car website has the chutzpah to say this, right under my “grand total”:
“Additional surcharges, local taxes, etc. may apply.”
Additional? What more could they add? WTF, as the kids say.
But hey. At least I can relax when I get to my hotel. I booked a sweet deal online for a swanky place – I saved up so I could stay at this resort and I got a killer deal… just $200 a night.
Whoa, there, intrepid hotel visitor. Hold on a minute. There’s the little matter of the “tax recovery and service charge” tax. Uh, what? Anyway, it pops that bill up to close to $240 a night, so all of a sudden my two nights in the hotel are a $500 proposition, not $400.
I don’t know about you, but adding an extra $150 onto my weekend in nickel-and-dime taxes does not put me in a festive, relaxing mood. One fellow traveler, on the road all the time for business purposes, expressed it somewhat colorfully:
“I am so sick of these BOHICA (Bend Over Here It Comes Again) tax policies that stick it to the business traveler who has no option but to travel, no matter what the cost. I hate these totalitarian bastards that continue to have their way with our wallets. More than 200 years ago, a few guys got a bit rowdy over taxes far less than what we are raped for nowadays. Yet most people barely notice they’ve been robbed.”
She’s right. Most of us just look at the total, heave a forlorn sigh, and hand over our credit card.