Anyone who's ever rented a car knows that one thing remains constant, whether you're in Anchorage, or Ankara, Turkey. The quoted price is never the final price. Why? We'll tell you why. Renters are an easy mark for regional governments looking to make a buck, that's why. After all, you're just visiting Minneapolis. You can't stick around and vote, can you? Didn't think so.
This explains why a city like, oh why not, let's keep picking on Minneapolis, feels no shame in slapping about 30 percent (and rising, mind you) in taxes and fees on top of your rental.
Where's all this money going? Who knows? The Fee Detective, that's who. Welcome all, to the premier edition of this soon-to-be AutoSlash fan favorite, where we examine hidden charges and fees on your rental bill.
This week – play me on, Johnny! – we've got (drum roll, please) the Harris County Sports Venue Tax.
This little baby is a tax you'll pay when you pick up a rental car in Houston, whether at the airports or local branches around Harris County. There's no avoiding it, really, and at 5 percent, it can be a real kick in the teeth. Worst of all, it's just one of five taxes and fees levied by all agencies renting cars at Houston's airports, where you'll pay nearly $20 in extra charges on a one-day rental priced at $39.99. Howdy, y'all!
So what is the Harris County Sports Venue Tax, exactly? Well, see that big stadium downtown – the one that used to be Enron Field but is now Minute Maid Park? The one where the Astros lose, all too frequently? Think of it as the house that so many visitors to Houston helped build. Authorized by Harris County – that's where Houston is, if that was unclear – this is a five percent levy that helps fund and maintain facilities managed by the very busy regional sports authority, which recently finished up the Toyota Center, where the Rockets play and tweens go hoarse shrieking their love for the likes of Justin Bieber. Don't be surprised – plenty more cities across the country see taxation of car rental receipts as a convenient way to raise funds for development without all those pesky locals shrieking about tax hikes.
Don't like it? Of course you don't. Neither do we, honestly. But hey, at least it's not the ten percent, statewide rental tax. (You see, it's not so much that Texas hates taxes; they like them just fine – they're just more fun when someone else is paying them.)
Fees, facility charges and taxes got you confused and/or down? The Fee Detective will ‘splain all! Send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll feature your question in an upcoming post.