Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nashville = Taxville

Recently, I ran across an article listing the top ten U.S. cities with the highest and lowest traveler tax rates. I was a little surprised at what I learned. I think you will be, too. I break it down for ya below.

The article was a summary of the annual study conducted by the GBTA Foundation (Global Business Traveler Association Foundation) and can be found on their website, by clicking here. The article is titled "GBTA Reveals Best and Worst Travel Taxes in Top 50 U.S. Destinations."  

Geographic center of the contiguous United Sta...
Geographic center of the contiguous United States is located in United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The study looked at the total amount of daily taxes paid by travelers to various U.S. cities. The amount includes both general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes. Discriminatory travel taxes are taxes on things that specifically target travelers, such as rental cars, hotels, and restaurant meals. These discriminatory travel taxes are in addition to the sales tax travelers pay on the same items.

Below, I have listed, by ranking, the top ten U.S. cities, according to the article, with the highest total traveler taxes per day along with the total dollar amount of taxes incurred each day :
  1. Chicago, IL - $40.31
  2. New York, NY - $37.98
  3. Boston, MA - $34.83
  4. Kansas City, MO - $34.58
  5. Seattle, WA - $34.43
  6. Minneapolis, MN - $34.32
  7. Cleveland, OH - $34.22
  8. Indianapolis, IN - $34.19
  9. Nashville, TN - $34.13
  10. Houston, TX - $33.51  
Next, per the study, I have listed, by ranking, the top 10 U.S. cities with the lowest total traveler taxes per day along with the total dollar amount of taxes incurred by travelers each day :
  1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL - $22.21
  2. Ft. Myers, FL - $22.21
  3. West Palm Beach, FL - $22.21
  4. Detroit, MI - $22.37
  5. Portland, OR - $22.45
  6. Orange County, CA - $22.79
  7. Burbank, CA - $23.74
  8. Ontario, CA - $24.08
  9. Honolulu, HI - $24.38
  10. Orlando, FL - $24.50
Please note the four brightly colored cities, because there's some shocking stuff in there. First, consider that in a recent article on titled, "States with the Highest and Lowest Tax Burdens", California was ranked as having the 4th highest overall, out of 50 states, tax burden in the country. However, in the GBTA study, 3 of California's largest cities ranked as having the 6th, 7th, and 8th lowest daily total taxes on travelers in the country !

The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...
Nashville, TN - The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Second, the same article, showed that Tennessee has the 3rd lowest overall, out of 50 states, tax burden in the country. However, Nashville, TN has the 9th overall highest daily tax burden upon travelers of any city in the country !

Now, let's break these numbers down a little further. (Sorry, the accountant in me can't help it.) For simplicity's sake, let's round the daily total traveler tax burdens for Nashville, TN and Orange County, Burbank, and Ontario in California. Nashville's becomes $34, Orange County's $23, and Burbank's and Ontario's $24. Then, let's look at some percentages.

Let's say you originally planned to travel to Orange County, CA, but changed your mind and decided to go to Nashville, TN instead. Each day of your trip you would pay 47.8% more in taxes than if you had kept your original plans and gone to Orange County, CA [(34-23) / 23 = .478 x 100 = 47.8%]. Also, if you changed your plans from going to Burbank, CA or Ontario, CA and went to Nashville, TN instead, you would pay 41.7% more in taxes per day [(34-24) / 24 = .417 x 100 = 41.7%]. WOW !! Who would have thought that traveler taxes would be over 40% higher in Nashville, TN than in a big city in tax happy, Progressive California ? 

These statistics seem backwards, right ? I thought so, too, until I remembered the never-ending string of Progressive / Liberal Nashville Mayors. Ever since I moved into the area, Nashville's voters have insisted on electing one "Big Gubmint" lovin', tax and spend, go-into-debt Democrat after another. These Mayors have paid for project after project with more taxes on the backs of taxpayers.

First, there was "Uncle Phil" Bredesen. In my opinion, his regime could be characterized as the most pro-corporate welfare and tax increase-loving administration the city has ever known. It built a NHL hockey arena and brought in the Nashville Predators to play in it. Next, Bud "You Can Take Me At My Word" Adams and his then Houston "Loser" Oilers, now Tennessee "Thug" Titans, were recruited to Nashville. The Bredesen Regime then builds the team the nice, new stadium Bud's been wanting at a nice, fat price tag to Nashville taxpayers of over $300 Million. The NHL and NFL both came to Nashville via Bredesen and on the back of Nashville taxpayers. All to the tune of about $400 Million. Oh, and don't get me started on Uncle Phil's other big corporate welfare project - Dell Computers.

During the Bredesen Mayoral Regime, Nashville property taxes went up, up, up to pay for the Titans and Predators. Some will tell you, "No, that's not so." Well, it is so. It was one of the reasons I moved out of Davidson Co. I'm not paying for playpens for a bunch of spoiled brats. In my opinion, they should pay for it themselves. While Nashville's taxpayers were paying for professional sports teams, many other important needs of the city's citizens, such as its schools, went without.

Next up - Bill Purcell. I kinda felt sorry for him. Now, in his defense, he was the guy stuck trying to manage all the debt Bredesen's Regime piled on the city. It seemed that besides making budget cut after budget cut each year of his tenure, and reading books to the kids, Purcell spent most of his time as Nashville Mayor treading water trying to survive the debt avalanche inherited from the Bredesen Regime. It was so bad the poor guy got outta Dodge as soon as his 2nd term was up to go to Harvard and teach or something. I mean, that dude got WAAAYY out of Dodge. Can't say that I blame him. I will give Purcell credit for one thing, though - he fought his tail off opposing the new Nashville Convention Center and stopped it dead in its tracks. Unfortunately for Nashville, though, next up as Mayor was Karl "Let's Spend Some Money" Dean.

English: Construction progress of Music City C...
English: Construction progress of Music City Center in Nashville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dean is the current Nashville Mayor, and if you are an elected official wanting to learn how to spend some money, Dean is the guy to learn from. He came into office determined to build the new convention center. I thought the city's debt piled up during Bredesen's Regime, but I hadn't seen nothing, yet. Bredesen was just the warmup for the headliner, Dean. The city went in debt nearly $400 Million on the Pred-a-Thugs and Titan Thugs deals combined during the Bredesen years, but Dean topped that in one deal. The new "Music City Center" has a price tag of about $600 Million. Furthermore, according to an article titled "Nashville Gambles On Lure of New Convention Center" on, the city is also fronting around $125 Million toward the new Omni hotel near the new convention center.

Dean is the king of Nashville's Mayors when it comes to spending money and racking up debt. He's over the $700 Million mark with the Music City Center and Omni Hotel. Now, ... that's Progressive.

The question is - how does Dean and the city plan to pay all this massive amount of debt for the new convention center ? Quite simply, they plan to do so with even more taxes on tourists. Yes, I said more. Perhaps they're not happy with that #9 ranking above.  According to an article on titled "Nashville's New Convention Center Sets Up Big Challenge for Memphis", the Music City Center debt will be paid off with :
  • half of the city's current hotel / motel tax, plus
  • an extra $2 per night / per room hotel motel tax, plus
  • a 1% rental car surcharge (tax), plus
  • a $2 tax every time as bus, taxi, or other commercial vehicle leaves the airport, plus
  • all sales taxes within a zone around the building, and 
  • ALL sales tax collected at both the hotel and new convention center.
Whew !! That's a lot of dadgum taxes.

All of these taxes above will be on top of all the taxes that travelers to the city are already paying. So, that $34.13 per day total travel taxes figure noted above can only go in one direction - up.

Here's the good news, though, Nashville - if that total travel tax burden per day goes up just $.71, and with the new taxes above, that's pretty much a certainty, your city will vault all the way into 3rd place, behind only the Progressive Metropolis' of Chicago, IL and New York City among U.S. cities that tax travelers the most. Yippeeeee !

Additionally, if the total tax burden on travelers goes up just $6.19 per day, and you've got a real good shot at achieving that mark, too, Nashville would jump all the way into 1st Place as the city which taxes travelers the most in the U.S. Nashville may not have a Super Bowl Trophy or a Stanley Cup, but it would become "Taxville U.S.A." As far as travelers are concerned, Nashville's motto could then be "Send 'Em and We'll Tax 'Em." Or, "Just Tax 'Em." I think I like the latter one better. It would fit on hats and t-shirts easier.

The best thing is that the city would finally be the best at something, and that's been a long time coming. "Taxville U.S.A." has had some leaders that really knew how to show the city's visitors some "Southern hospitality."

Just Tax 'Em.
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