Now Boarding: Travel taxes up

USA Today reported a nice summary of hotel room and car rental tax increases in a handful of popular tourist states that will hopefully balance their budgets with your out-of-state (or in-state) tax dollars. Yes, that gritty little tax that gets tacked on along with the accidental bottle of water you opened from the mini-bar and making one local telephone call. You wonder why your hotel bill is always higher than you originally had priced.

Anyway, here’s what USA Today had uncovered (and I cut and pasted this section directly from the paper. This disclaimer should ease me from copyright infringement), along with my editorial opinion.

Hawaii. The hotel room tax increased from 7.25% to 8.25% on Wednesday and will rise to 9.25% in July 2010. (MyTravelHats editorial note: Unfortunately, this won’t keep me out of Hawaii.)

Nevada. The room tax will increase up to 3 percentage points, to a maximum of 12%. In Las Vegas, the hotel tax jumps from 9% to 12%. Reno’s tax was already 12% and is not scheduled to change. (MyTravelHats editorial note: double down on 11 and you’ll have a good chance of earning that tax back from the hotel.)

New Hampshire. The tax on rooms and restaurant meals rose from 8% to 9% and was extended to include recreational vehicles at campgrounds. (MyTravelHats editorial note: RVs are cheesy anyway. Pitch a tent!)

Massachusetts. Cities were given authority to raise the hotel tax from 4% to 6%, in addition to the state tax of 5.7%. Taxes on eating out will rise from 5% to 6.25% statewide, plus another 0.75% if cities choose. (MyTravelHats editorial note: It may be time for another Boston Tea Party by the tourists. You don’t hear of revolts like that happening nowadays. Wouldn’t it be kind of cool?)

 New York City. The city, which raised its hotel tax March 1 to 14.25%, not counting other fees, will start charging more for Internet reservations. (MyTravelHats editorial note: everything is already so ridiculously overpriced in NYC that you won’t even notice the tax. Clever city government.)

And apparently the cost of renting a car is going up, too. For example, Newark Airport will tack on a 5% tax fee, and Wisconsin is changing the fee in Milwaukee from $2 to… $18, to “subsidize mass transit”. ?!?!? Subsidize it by getting people NOT to rent cars and to take the bus instead? The car rental companies (along with the airlines) already thought they could continue to get away with the “fuel fee” that never went away when fuel prices dropped.

My solution: Don’t let those greedy Wall Streeters make you pay for the failing state budgets that are a direct result of their carelessness! Call up your old college friends and ask them for a ride from the airport! See if they’ll let you stay with them! If you’re really too old for this, as most of us are, I find that batting my eyelashes at male hotel checker-inners sometimes helps get an upgrade to a suite or perhaps a courtesy bottle of wine delivered to the room. If you’re female and you get a female checker-inner, sometimes wheedling a little about being unemployed, without being annoying, draws a little sympathy and a freebie here and there. Again, it’s not about the money, although it is about the money, but it is also sheerly out of principle. I’m very into upholding principles these days.


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