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Boston is one of the favorite cities of the AutoSlash team -- we're geeks about travel and the history of our nation. It may come to a surprise to many travelers that a region famously (and rightfully) known for protesting against the Tea Act would later seek to impose taxes on every individual who visits the fine city! Every member of the AutoSlash team has flown into Boston-Logan International Airport and dealt with the airport taxes there. And there are a lot of taxes to talk about! 

In a recent article, we noted that Boston-Logan Airport (BOS) is one of just two airports in the nation where a "free" award day at National would be more than $20 due to taxes and fees. Falling just behind San Francisco in rental car tax burden should not be a source of civic pride, and all the Dunkin' Donuts coffee in the rental car center -- yes, there is a Dunkin' there -- doesn't take away the sting of these various taxes and fees. 

The rental car company "tax and fee" statements in Boston include many items that are familiar to renters at airports around the world, a novel approach to a common fee, a fee designed simply to soak tourists, a fee that doesn't exist in any other state we know, and sales taxes (just because)! Ready to dive into the creative abuse rained down in Massachusetts by governments, the airport authority (MASSPort) and the rental car companies? We're here to help explain!

This Enterprise quote is a practical example of a 1-day rental --  $46.60 base rate plus $27.71 in taxes.

The Customer Facility Charge

CFC -- common airport tax that goes to the airport.

The Customer Facility Charge is a way of making the customer paying for the Consolidated Rental Car Facility at the airport. In true tax-happy fashion, the fee was set at $4.00 per rental day on December 1, 2008. One year later (December 1, 2009), the fee was increased by 50% to $6.00 per rental day. Yes, renters are charged for every day away from the rental car center. A one-day renter rides the shuttle bus to the facility, rents a car, returns a car, and rides the shuttle bus back to the airport at a cost of $6. A two-week renter rides the shuttle bus to the facility, rents a car, returns a car, and rides the shuttle bus back to the airport at a cost of $84. Just like at other airports, a daily CFC punishes long-term renters who actually use the same amount of resources as a short-term renter.

Think it can't get worse? We have good reason to believe the Customer Facility Charge will increase in the future. As the MASSPort Annual Report states:

The Authority recognized $32.3 million and $30.8 million in CFC revenue for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2016 and 2015, respectively. As of June 30, 2016 and 2015, $201.7 million and $205.0 million of CFC bonds were outstanding, respectively.

The year 2016 saw a record $32.3 million in CFC revenue and the airport authority only retired $3.3 million of the $205 million rental car facility bonds. Yikes.

The Concession Recovery Fee

CRF - Entirely made up by the rental car companies, airport allows, money goes to the airport.

The Concession Recovery Fee (11.1%) isn't a tax that's mandated by the airport itself. The fee does represent the money that has to be sent to the airport by the rental car company for the privilege of being at the airport. The concession agreement at the airport says that vendors (in this case, rental car companies) have to fork over 10% of all revenue. The rental car companies -- rather than give up 10% from the prices they list -- instead add a concession recovery fee. The rental car company keeps 100% of the "base rate", adds 11.1% as a "concession recovery fee", then gives the airport the required 10% cut (out of 111.1%). While the rental car companies are allowed to abuse mathematics in this way, none of the other vendors at the airport get to do so. The purchase at Dunkin' Donuts or Legal Seafood doesn't include sales tax and a concession recovery fee!

AutoSlash quotes total rates; our rates already include this made-up rental car fee while most websites do not. 

The Convention Center Financing Charge

CCF - Tax created by government to abuse tourists and locals

The Boston authorities completely got in the tax-and-tax mode on the Convention Center Financing Charge. In an attempt to promote tourism and economic development, they added a tax (ostensibly on tourists) to fund convention centers. Nothing says "welcome to your professional convention" like paying for a conference registration fee (much of which goes to the hosting facility), airfare (and airport taxes), hotels (and hotel taxes), meals (and sales taxes), Boston's tolls, and then being asked to pay another $10 for the convention center hosting the conference.

This fee catches everyone renting a car in Boston -- conventioneers, tourists, and local residents going on vacation or replacing a vehicle in the shop. The only nice part of this fee is that it's exempt from the additional sales taxes on the rental! Technically, this fee has to be quoted on its own line (and most firms do so) but Dollar and Thrifty should break out the $10.00 Convention Center Fee and 60 cent Parking Fine Recovery separately, then throw the 3 cents in tax back in the sales tax line.

The numbers are right but this Thrifty quote technically doesn't meet state requirements.

The Parking Fine Recovery Fee (or Parking Surcharge)

Completely bogus tax created by the State of Massachusetts, funds go the State.

This fee goes to to the State of Massachusetts and applies to all rental cars. So what is a Parking Fine Recovery fee? It's a fee to pay the unpaid parking tickets of other rental car users. No, we're not kidding. There's a nuance of parking tickets that led the State of Massachusetts to implement this fee. A parking citation isn't attached to a driver record like a speeding ticket. The parking ticket also isn't mailed to the vehicle owner like tickets from a red-light or speed camera. So the owner of a rental car might never learn about traffic tickets until it's time to renew the registration or sell the car. How did Massachusetts fix that problem? Rather than passing tickets to the rental car company (to bill the at fault party), the state elected to charge every car renter to help make up for unpaid rental car parking tickets!

The State of Massachusetts then imposes a partial 5% extra sales tax on the fee that covers the unpaid parking tickets of other drivers. Charging sales tax on the parking tickets of others is truly creative, to say the least. 

The Vehicle Licensing Fee 

VLF - Made-up fee created by the rental car companies, government allows, money goes to the rental car company

The vehicle licensing fees actually go to the rental car company. While most observers astutely note that licensing cars is a core function of renting cars, many states (like Massachusetts) allow the rental car company to charge fees that help defray the cost of registering and licensing the vehicle. However, the fees exceed the actual costs of registering and licensing the vehicle in many cases. Boston -- an area where rental rates are already expensive -- does something that's truly confounding. 

While Enterprise and National charge a set fee per day, rental car companies in Massachusetts are allowed to charge a Vehicle Licensing Fee that's a percentage of the rental rate (7.75%) as in the Thrifty example above. Two Thrifty renters walk to the counter -- one booked through AutoSlash at a discounted rate and the other booked through another service (non-discounted) at the same time. The customer who booked elsewhere would pay more to "license" the vehicle! 

Sales Tax

Because why not?

Think the sales tax is only applied to the base rental rate? Hope springs eternal but that would be wrong. In Boston, sales tax is collected on the base rate, concession recovery fee (which should be part of the base rate), parking recovery fee, and the vehicle licensing fee! At least the abusive $16 Customer Facility Charge and Convention Center Recovery Fee on a hypothetical one-day renter is exempt from sales tax... 

Our Take

The State of Massachusetts, City of Boston, and airport-operator MASSPort through many taxes and fees on rentals from the airport. Some of those taxes and fees are fixed quantities -- there's nothing anyone can do to avoid or lessen the Convention Center Fee, Customer Facility Charge, and Parking Fine Recovery Fee at the airport. Those add up to $16.63 on a one-day rental before the rental car company gets a single penny!  What we do every day is help customers cut down their base rates as much as possible; that has a ripple effect as it also lessens the concession recovery fees, vehicle licensing fees and sales taxes. While few rentals in Boston could ever be described as "cheap", we expect to find the lowest possible rates available!


Ready to book your next rental car? We can't get rid of surperfluous taxes but we can help by finding the lowest possible total rates (taxes included)! Click below to request a quote now. 

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