Skift Take

As U.S. cities scramble for more sources of revenue to operate basic services we'll likely see the beginning of an even bigger crackdown on online travel agencies and vacation websites that seek to avoid paying taxes.

Travelers often bemoan the high cost of traditional hotel rooms that includes amenities that guests may neither use or care about. The cost has been part of what’s driven the popularity of Airbnb, but what many guests may not realize is how much of the bill goes toward city and state taxes to keep beaches fresh or stadiums standing tall.

Based on a seven-night stay in a $200 per night hotel — low for many cities — the taxes can add up to an entire night’s stay in states such as Idaho, Maryland, Vermont, and New York.

It might ease the pain of an empty wallet if travelers knew that 0.5 percent of hotel taxes go toward helping the homeless in Tampa or that 5 percent of hotel taxes go to keeping the shoreline clean and beautiful in Fort Myers. That’s about where the tax altruism stops.

All of the money spent on hotel taxes spent in Las Vegas goes toward promoting gambling and tourism, and ten percent of lodging taxes in Indianapolis go to the Indiana Stadium.

The city with the highest lodging taxes is New York where guests will pay up to $254 in taxes based on a seven-night stay in a $200 per night hotel room. This is lower than the average daily room rate in New York, which was $277 back in 2011.

Sleeping With The Taxman On Vacation Infographic
Infographic from

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: nyc, taxes, vacations

Photo credit: The Fort Myers Beach, where 5 percent of hotel taxes are spent keeping the shoreline clean. Paul Hamilton / Flickr

Up Next

Loading next stories