Thursday, January 21, 2010

Travels with Tax Collectors

Heading out to Miami today for a funeral -- which is why my blogging will be sporadic at best for the next 3 or 4 days. I found a pretty good deal on a rental car, with a daily rate of around $25, costing me around $100 for 4 days. But when all the taxes, fees and other charges are tacked-on, the total price jumps by nearly 50 percent!

Here are the add-ons:

Facility Charge $15.80

Concession Fee Rec $10.56

Energy Recovery Fee $1.80

Florida Surcharge $8.08

State Tax $8.41

Vehicle License Fee $1.88

Total Est. Mandatory Charges $46.53

When we Americans travel, whether for business or pleasure or for funerals, we become a moving but easy target for tax collectors of all stripes. And I, for one, resent the never-ending shakedowns. It's taxation without representation of the most egregious sort. But because it targets transients -- travelers who are only passing through and can't voice objections -- the taxes can be levied with complete impunity.

I haven't taken a close look at my air ticket, but it too will be loaded with additional fees and charges, which will greatly inflate the cost of this trip. My hotel bill will also be heavily padded with taxes -- taxes that are levied on me without my consent, by local or state politicos I didn't elect, and which benefit me not a whit.

I'm not sure what can be done about traveler taxes. Even we in Colorado Springs are guilty of doing it, with our LART, for instance. But my resentment at becoming a prime target for tax collectors every time that I travel makes me all the more reluctant to use similar tactics on out-of-towners who visit Colorado Springs. It's inhospitable. It's opportunistic. It's the modern equivalent of highway robbery.

"Do onto others as you would have them do onto you," is probably a good rule to follow. But whether that sort of high-minded (and apparently archaic) precept will dissuade the highway robbers of the present day is doubtful.

I'll be back from Florida -- a lot less light in the pocket -- early next week.

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