Hidden travel taxes add up to 41% of the cost of your trip 

WASHINGTON, DC -- Feeling strapped for cash as you prepare to take off for Christmas vacation? Maybe that's because hidden travel taxes have added an astounding 41% to the cost of your trip, Libertarians say.

"For most Americans, Christmas is a season for giving," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director. "But for politicians, it's a time for taking things away. Their hidden travel taxes take away nearly half your buying power, which makes politicians the real-life Grinches who are trying to steal Christmas."

That unwelcome holiday burden results from a wide variety of taxes that federal, state, and local governments impose on travel- related products and services -- taxes that hit Americans especially hard over the holidays as they prepare to visit loved ones around the country.

According to a recent study by the Washington, DC-based Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), those unseen taxes boost the price of travel-related items by an average of 41.2%.

Without these taxes, noted Dasbach:

* A $400 plane ticket would cost just $240. But a wide variety of levies -- including a federal excise tax, passenger facilities charges, fuel taxes, arrival and departure taxes, air-traffic control surcharges, Customs, immigration, and agricultural inspection fees -- combined with additional taxes paid directly by the airlines, adds 40% to the cost of a plane ticket.

* An $80 hotel room would cost just $45.60. State sales and use taxes, occupancy taxes, and tourism taxes, combined with the taxes the hotel pays directly -- such as federal and state income taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation taxes, business license taxes, utility taxes, property taxes, local income taxes, and federal and state excise taxes on the hotel's telephones -- add 43% to the cost of a hotel room, according to ATR.

* A $50 restaurant bill would cost just $36.20. But higher- than-average sales taxes on food and drinks sold by restaurants, plus taxes on alcohol, franchise taxes, and property, income, and payroll taxes paid by restaurants, add an average of 27.6% to meal costs nationwide.

* A $20 tank of gasoline would cost just $9.80. However, 43 different taxes imposed by federal, state, and local governments add a whopping 54% to the price of a gallon of fuel. "After hearing about the government's very uncharitable plans for taxing your holiday travel, you might be tempted to just stay at home and save money by telephoning your relatives," Dasbach said. "But you'd better think twice, because politicians have managed to double the cost of a phone call -- by imposing 18 different taxes on telephone companies and phone bills.

"Or think you can defy the Christmas Grinches by sending your relatives a bottle of liquor instead?" he asked. "You'll still lose, and the politicians will win. That's because taxes make up 72% of the cost of a bottle of liquor -- so that $20 bottle of Bailey's should cost just $5.60."

As Americans get ready to celebrate the holiday season, they should keep one thought in mind, suggested Dasbach: "Consider how much merrier Christmas would be if you could visit your family, make a phone call, or give a gift without having to pay such outrageous taxes to greedy government Grinches."

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