Benjamin Barr

Sky High at Sky Harbor

Posted on November 28, 2006 | Author: Benjamin Barr
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If you had family in town for Thanksgiving, they may have mentioned how expensive it was to rent a car at Phoenix Sky Harbor. Nearly 30 percent of the average car-rental bill at Sky Harbor is taxes, the fourth highest in the nation.­ Ever wonder why they're so high?­ Sky Harbor doesn't hide the facts:­ the charges help pay for the University of Phoenix Stadium and a new multimillion-dollar car rental facility.­

Targeted excise taxes have proven regrettably popular across the nation.­ Since 1976, more than 80 car rental excise taxes have sprung up.­ They often fund things like minor league baseball and the performing arts, costing consumers $3 billion over the past 12 years.­

Many wonder why customers should be forced to fund programs bearing no connection to the car rental industry whatsoever. But the fundamental question is with discriminatory taxation.­ Rental taxes targeted explicitly at out-of-state residents likely violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against state-sanctioned economic discrimination against out-of-state residents.

Stadiums might be a good thing, but tax schemes ignorant of the Constitution are no way to play ball.­

Benjamin Barr is a constitutional policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Studies.

Key Links:

-Tax Foundation: The Case Against Special Rental Car Excise Taxes­
-Arizona Republic: Sky Harbor Airport costly for car rentals­
-United States Constitution: Article I, Section 8, Commerce Clause

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