by Michael J. Shapiro | December 11, 2013
Taxes on travel-related services in the U.S. increased the total tax bill for travelers by 58 percent in 2013, according to research released by the Global Business Travel Association this week. "More and more, governments think the easiest way to raise money is to penalize business travelers," said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA's executive director and COO. "That's just bad for business." Considering that Congress might double the TSA aviation tax this week, McCormick said the federal government should instead focus on driving efficiencies: "Improving management, procurement and budget controls will make a real difference." Despite the positive effects business travel has on the economy, McCormick added, federal, state and local governments "insist on treating travelers like their ATM. GBTA is very concerned taxes and fees are approaching the tipping point that will ultimately push business travelers to stay home."

In GBTA's ranking of the highest and lowest taxed cities among 50 top U.S. destinations, Chicago, New York and Minneapolis levy the highest total tax burden on travelers. Chicago and New York retained the first and second spots from 2012, while Minneapolis shot up from number 6 last year. Last year's third-highest tax city, Boston, fell to seventh in this year's ranking. The top-three cities with the lowest total tax burden are all in Florida, and retain their top ranking from 2012: Tied for the lowest are Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.

When general sales taxes are removed from the calculation, leaving only discretionary travel taxes, the highest-taxed cities are Portland, Ore.; Boston, and Indianapolis. The 10 lowest travel-tax cities are all in either California or Florida, with the former hosting the top five: Burbank, Orange County, Ontario, San Diego and Oakland. More information about the top 10 cities in each category can be found here. The full report is available for free to GBTA members here; nonmembers can buy the report for $499 by contacting