‘Epidemic' of Car Rental Fees Evident in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s new state budget includes a provision that would allow the Southeast Regional Transit Authority to raise the car rental fee from the current $2 to $18, an increase of as much as 800 percent, according to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. The fee increase is part of what car rental industry representatives are calling an “epidemic” of fees being forced on the industry.

The fee would help fund transit programs in southeast Wisconsin, specifically a commuter rail line running through Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee.

The fee has not yet been levied because the Authority has not yet been appointed. But local and national businesses believe increasing fees to rental car customers is not the best way to fund a transit authority. Gov. Jim Doyle agrees with them and strongly urged the authority to avoid full implementation of the new fee.

Neil Abrams, president of the Abrams Consulting Group, called the fee increases an “epidemic” and “a serious industry problem.”

The number of car rental excise taxes in the U.S. has doubled in the past decade, with more than 100 such taxes in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

“Politicians have come to look upon car rental taxes and even hotel taxes as a pot of gold,” said Kevin Maguire, president and CEO of the National Business Travel Association. He added that taxes are almost to the point of being more than the actual cost of the rental in some areas of the country.

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