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by Michael J. Shapiro | September 12, 2012

 Travel taxes and fees on travel-related services impose an average increased cost to visitors of 57 percent over general sales tax, according to research released this week by the GBTA Foundation. The education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, which just published its annual study of car rental, hotel and meal taxes in the top 50 U.S. travel destinations, also found that the taxes often fund projects that are unrelated to travel and tourism. "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," said GBTA Foundation vice president of research Joseph Bates 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." The study ranked cities according to total tax burden as well as discriminatory tax burden -- meaning levies beyond sales tax that target travel-related services. Three Florida cities -- Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach -- tied for the lowest total tax burden, while the six cities offering the lowest discriminatory tax burden were all California locations. From the lowest total, they were Burbank, Orange County, Ontario, San Diego, Los Angeles and Oakland. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chicago, New York City and Boston deliver the highest total tax burden; the highest discriminatory taxes were found in Portland, Ore.; Boston, and Chicago. The top 10 cities in each category, along with the tax amounts, can be found here. GBTA members can download the full report of all 50 cities; nonmembers can purchase the report for $495 by e-mailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.