Taxes can make a huge difference when calculating the price of travel. Visiting cities with lower sales and travel taxes -- rather than pricier hubs like New York, Boston and Chicago -- may help bring down the cost of your next business trip.
The average single day tax burden, which includes taxes on lodging, rental cars and meals, is $29.17 in the U.S., and tax bills for a single day’s travel with one overnight stay range from $22.21 to $40.31, according to a recent Global Business Travel Association report.
From California and Florida to Michigan, Oregon and even Hawaii, the GBTA recommends switching your next meeting to one of the following 10 cities that offer business travelers some of the lowest average tax burdens in the U.S.
Located on Florida’s east coast, Fort Lauderdale, along with Fort Myers and West Palm Beach, carries the lowest central city tax burden of the 50 U.S. cities included in the GBTA list. With combined single day travel taxes averaging just $22.21, the average hotel tax on a $103.45 room for a single night stay is $11.38 in these Florida cities. The average tax on a $55.99 car rental for a single day is $5.36, while the tax on a meal valued at $91.22 is $5.47.
Fort Myers, along with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is one of the three cheapest cities to travel to when counting taxes on hotels, car rentals and a single day’s meals. The town, which is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, carries an average single-day tax bill of $22.21.
Along with Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale, the bustling Florida city of West Palm Beach is one of the cheapest places in the U.S. to host business meetings when accounting for taxes on hotels, car rentals and meals. Like its cheap Florida peers, the East Coast town also carries a one-day tax burden of $22.21.
Not just an automobile manufacturing hub that houses giants like Ford, General Motors and Chevrolet, Detroit is also one of the cheapest places to travel for business when calculating taxes. With combined single day travel taxes on average of $22.37, the city charges on average $12.41 on a $103.45 hotel room, $4.48 on a car rental of $55.99 and $5.47 on a single day of meals valued at $91.22.
Portland is especially attractive because it carries no sales or meals taxes. For example, the difference in a $100 dinner between Portland and New Jersey, which charges a 7% sales tax, is $7. The dollars saved on various purchases throughout a trip can add up. Portland’s combined single day of travel taxes, including car rentals and hotel says, is $22.45, with the average tax on a $103.45 hotel room of $12.93. But be careful when renting a car there, as the tax to rent a car for a single day averages $9.52, one of the highest behind Las Vegas, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, New York and Chicago.
In 2011 a number of California cities arrived on GBTA's Lowest Tax Burden list due to a drop in the state's sales tax. Orange County, which carries a combined single day travel tax rate of $22.79, also offers the second lowest discriminatory tax differential, which is a tax on travel services above and beyond general sales tax. Pictured here is Newport Beach, a town in Orange County.
Burbank, which on average taxes travelers $23.74 a day for food, hotels and car rentals, by far taxes the least on hotel rooms. At $10.38 on a single-night stay in a room valued at $103.45, Burbank's next closest peer on average charges a dollar more. The city, located in Los Angeles County, also offers the lowest discriminatory tax differential, which is a tax on travel services above and beyond general sales tax.
Ontario offers an average combined tax bill on hotel rooms, car rentals and meals of $24.08. The city, located some 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, also offers the third lowest discriminatory tax differential, which is a tax on travel services above and beyond general sales tax.
Honolulu won a spot on the GBTA list this year because it maintained rates while other cities enacted new hikes. Hawaii's capitol city pushed out San Jose, Calif., a previously low-tax town that now taxes 4% on rooms for all hotels within the city limits. However, be wary of Honolulu, as it still charges $14.44 on average in taxes for a room valued at $103.45.
Also new to the GBTA list this year is Orlando. Like Honolulu, it made the list because other previously low-tax towns lifted rates. Hartford, Ct., for example, raised sales taxes this year and implemented a substantial increase in the occupancy and motor vehicle rental taxes. Orlando, which houses Orlando Studios and Disney World, carries a combined travel tax burden of $24.50. Following closely behind it are Tampa, Fla., with a tax burden of $24.72, and San Diego, Calif., which taxes on average $24.72 for a day of meals, hotel rooms and car rentals.
Among the challenges faced by business travelers such as airport security rules and lack of sleep is the ever-growing expense of traveling. With oil and other factors pushing ticket prices higher, and with airport fees and hotel rates on the rise, travel is an increasingly bigger headache for the average road warrior and a burden on companies.