Hotel taxes run big in Texas cities

NEW YORK -- Everything's big in Texas, including the lodging tax charged by the state's major cities.

A hotel room in Houston, for example, comes with a 17% lodging tax, and San Antonio levies a 16.75% tax, according to Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm.

Runzheimer found that Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas and Fort Worth each have a 15% lodging tax.

Lodging taxes, which are imposed on hotel renters, are a combination of city and state taxes, said Runzheimer.

"Very often, the purpose of the tax is to fulfill travel-related public needs, such as building convention halls and improving traffic control, but also to fatten cities' operating funds," said Rolfe Shellenberger, senior travel consultant at Runzheimer.

Runzheimer found that lodging taxes for first class accommodations in San Antonio and Houston, with respective rates of $164 and $239, can add $28 and $41 to a bill.

In contrast, cities such as Billings, Mont., and Erie, Pa., charge about $3 and $9 in lodging taxes, respectively, based on lodging rates of $85 and $156.50 (in-season rate), said Runzheimer.

"There seems to be an unquenchable need for municipalities to tax those who aren't the beneficiaries of the tax," said Shellenberger. "The out-of-town visitor is fair game for filling the public coffers."

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