Anytime you rent a car you’ll notice a long list of fees in the rental car contract, and while you can avoid some of them like insurance and pre-paid gas, there’s not much you can do about the bulk of them. You’ll see fees with names like airport concession fee, reimbursement fee, cost recovery fee, vehicle license fee, peak season surcharge, state and local taxes, and stadium taxes. Generally speaking, airport rentals have the most fees because lawmakers figure most of the renters are from out of town, making them the perfect candidates to be stuck with an extra tax.
One of the most popular (at least with lawmakers) airport rental car fees is added tax to fund a stadium, arena or convention center. If you travel enough, you could even claim that you’ve helped fund dozens of sports venues all around the country. And even when those taxes are supposed to be temporary and eventually expire, they often do not. A perfect example is the 2-percent tax in Seattle, which was instituted in 1995 (along with taxes on hotels and restaurants) to help fund Safeco Field for the Seattle Mariners. The problem is that the bonds for Safeco Field are set to be paid off this year, so logically that tax should disappear. But of course things don’t always work logically in government, and some legislators are pushing for an extension of the tax to pay for other projects, like a convention center and low-income housing. While those are certainly worthy causes, it does go to show why these taxes rarely go down once they are started, even if they are supposed to be “temporary.”