Hotel scams: Taxes

Make sure all taxes are included in the room price you are quoted

Six main hotel rip-offs
• the minibar
• the telephone
• the parking garage
• the breakfast
• the laundry service
• the taxes

Always ask if taxes are included in the hotel quote. This is significant since taxes and local "occupancy fees" (another word for taxes) can add anywhere from 4% to 20% to your room rate.

Note that, in much of Europe, this is not an issue as the country's VAT—the Value Added Tax, sort of like a national sales tax—is automatically folded into the sticker price, as it were.

However, there are a few countries where they might set the room rates before taxes and then tack on the extra when it comes time to pay the bill. The U.S.A. is one.

There's nothing illegal about this at all, just a bit sneaky, and as with so many other hidden or inflated charges, the pricier the hotel is, the more likely it is to leave the tax out of its posted rates.

Where to look out for added taxes

Look out for extra hotel taxes especially in Spain (7%) and France (it varies depending on the hotel's star rating), as in both countries it's fairly standard to quote hotel prices without taxes.

In 2011, Italy's major cities started charging taxes as well. This varies based on the hotel's rating and other factors, and differs in Rome, Venice, and Florence, but in general no more than €1 to €5 per person per night. These Italian taxes are so new hotels have yet to settle on a way to present them, so some fold them into the rates, other break them out and charge seperately. Just be prepared.

It happens much less frequently, but with rather more dramatic results, in Britain (where the tax is a whopping 20%) and the more expensive properties in the Czech Republic (where you may find a 22% headache waiting for you at the end of your stay).

Again—as is so often the case with other hotel fees—cheaper hotels will often include taxes in their quoted rates, while ludicrously overpriced hotels will try to hide it in the fine print.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.