Fee Detective

Supreme Court of Hawaii Holds Hearing on Rental Car Taxes

Hawaii Supreme Court

The Fee Detective recently wrote about the Hawai'i Legislature's seeming willingness to crank up taxes on rental cars -- specifically at airports -- in an attempt to make "rental car users at airports" (ostensibly, tourists) pay for their transportation infrastructure. Concurrently, the State of Hawai'i was suing various large online travel agencies (OTAs) for taxes related to rental cars in Hawai'i ranging from the year 2000 through 2013, claiming that the travel companies should have been collecting (and paying) all Hawai'i imposed taxes despite not having a physical presence in Hawai'i. The lawsuit about rental cars follows a lawsuit the state previously had pursued against the same online travel agencies (OTAs) about hotel stays but the seeds of the lawsuit were planted in a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court all the way back in 1991 (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota).

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Will San Francisco Get Help From the State of California in a Lawsuit Against Turo?


In previous posts, we've mocked the City of San Francisco and their ostensible war on transportation. While the City has no desire to enforce laws that might curtail unmitigated vehicle break-ins and there's an active lawsuit against Hertz for a problem caused by the city, there's also the lawsuit filed against Turo for operations at the airport. In existing state law, individuals who list their cars on Turo are defined as participating in a "personal vehicle sharing program", not a rental car transaction. San Francisco wants Turo participants to be treated as rental car companies and they might have help from the California State Legislature, which has the ability to define "rental cars" and is likely to pass one of two new laws this legislative session. L.A. Law was clearly superior to the real-life S.F. Law we insult in our blog!

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The Fee Detective Visits Geneva, Where Renters Return Vehicles in the Wrong Countries


The Fee Detective rarely agrees with the actions taken by governments, airport authorities or rental car companies. Most cases explored in this series are truly nothing but revenue grabs. Then we see stories such as a fee dispute at the Geneva Airport recently featured by U.K. tabloid The Sun, where customers knowingly returned rental cars to the wrong location and were then appalled when incurring large fees. That's right, the story starts when customers return vehicles to the wrong location, which also happens to be in the wrong country. And the fee is hefty at £375 for these U.K.-based tourists.

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Arizona Rental Car Tax, Once Deemed Unconstitutional, Ruled Valid on Appeal

Arizona Flag

In a previous Fee Detective post, we wrote about the State of Arizona's tax on rental cars explicitly to fund sports stadiums and tourism promotion. Initiated in 2001, the tax was challenged by renters in 2004 but the case was dismissed in 2007 because vehicle renters were determined to not have valid standing to sue. In 2010, representatives of Saban's Rent-A-Car filed suit and in 2014, the tax was declared to violate the Arizona State Constitution. The year 2015 saw the State being ordered by courts to refund $160 million of these taxes. Yet the state continued to collect the taxes and appeal; otherwise, there would be no way to pay for the stadiums funded by abusing rental car users. Now, the stadium rental car tax has been ruled to comply with the constitution, a new chapter in a process that's likely to extend at least a few more years.

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The Fee Detective Visits Florida and Explores the Florida Rental Car Surcharge

Florida $2 bill

Ever book a rental car in Florida? If so, you've seen a pervasive "Florida Rental Car Surcharge" of $2 per day. This state-specific surcharge is in addition to all the various taxes and fees we ordinarily see on rentals and the purpose of the tax is in the name. It's a surcharge on rental cars for the State of Florida's benefit (in more ways than one). And it's a pretty hefty financial benefit -- we're talking $175 million annually in revenue, $2 at a time. So what's this fee and how is it used?

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