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Tax Heavens and Hells for Travelers

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Does your summer family vacation budget include a line item for taxes? It should, because depending on your destination, taxes on hotels, rental cars and restaurant meals could add 35% to your getaway bill.

Taxes on travel and tourism have been on the rise since the 1990s and now cost travelers nearly $30 per day, on average, in the most popular destination cities, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). That means a family of four that plans to spend $1,000 for their trip could end up spending $100 or $200 more than they expected because of taxes, says Joseph Bates, the GBTA’s vice-president for research.

Here are the five cities that impose the heftiest average tax burdens on travelers and tourists, and the five that impose the least, based on data from the GBTA’s annual survey of 50 top U.S. travel destinations and Kiplinger’s State-by-State Tax Guide. With the help of TripAdvisor’s list of top U.S. destinations, we then filtered out cities that are skewed toward business travelers. In addition to taxes on hotels, rental cars and restaurant meals, we included state gas taxes and state excise taxes (also known as sin taxes) on beer, wine and liquor.

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