Do Campgrounds Have Hidden Resort Tax?

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Do Campgrounds Have Hidden Resort Tax?

Did you know campgrounds might charge hidden fees when you book? This “resort tax” could sneak up without you realizing it.

So how do you find out who charges a fee and who doesn’t? And can you get out of paying this deceptive, hidden fee?

Let’s take a closer look!

What Is a Resort Tax?

A resort tax is an additional fee that places like a resort, hotel, or other destination charge. They may tack it on per day.

The accommodation may not list the resort taxes, or resort fees, in the rental price. This frustrates travelers, who anticipate spending a certain amount on accommodations, only to get a higher number when they book.

What Is Included in a Resort Fee?

Different accommodations include different things in their resort fees. Resort fees can pay for amenities such as laundry rooms, pools, gyms, Wi-Fi, and more. Basically, any additional amenity or feature that a place provides could fall under the resort fee.

Sign on path to a campsite.
Campgrounds with extra amenities like a pool, laundry room, or full hook ups might charge a resort tax.

Do Campgrounds Charge Resort Taxes?

Some campgrounds do charge resort taxes, also known as a resort fee, hotel fee, hotel tax, tourist tax, tourism fee, etc. Rules vary from town to town or state to state and depend on the type of campground, too. 

For example, Sierra County, California charges a 12.5% transient occupancy tax, known as a bed tax or TOT, to anyone who stays in a motel room, campsite, or RV space in the county for 30 days or less. In this instance, the campground owners have no choice but to charge the fee. In a thread on RV.net, one RVer says a campground owner in Forks, Washington, was so angry with the county charging a lodging tax that he helped cover it for his guests. 

Pro Tip: RV resorts have amenities you won’t find at regular RV parks or campgrounds, so resort taxes might be included. However, are RV resorts all that they’re cracked up to be? Read more about these 3 Surprisingly Common RV Resort Misconceptions.

Do Resort Taxes Vary from State to State?

Resort taxes vary from state to state and county to county. While some places charge a resort fee to maintain their facilities, local and state governments sometimes also charge a tourism tax to support and develop the local area. 

RV Park along water with RVs in them.
Resort taxes will change depending on the state or county you are in.

How Long Have Resort Fees Been Charged?

Hotels began charging resort fees in the 1990s, regardless of what facilities a guest actually used. It isn’t just luxury resorts that are charging resort fees, either. Even budget hotels charge a resort fee, to the dismay of many travelers and tourists. 

Resort fees present many issues for domestic and international travelers. Domestic travelers typically travel on a budget, and nobody wants to find out that the actual price of their room or campsite is higher than the price they saw online. 

For international travelers, resort fees can be more than just a headache: they’re a predatory practice. Not all international travelers coming to the U.S. are familiar with the U.S. tourism industry or resort taxes. They may not speak English well enough to dispute the fees either.

Woman calculating resort fees on a bill.
You may be able to dispute resort fees, however, it usually takes a long time and is difficult to do.

Can Resort Fees Be Illegal?

In many countries, undisclosed fees before booking are illegal. In the U.S., deceptive pricing and advertising aren’t legal, but the FTC hasn’t enforced this when it comes to resort fees. According to KillResortFees.com, the FTC regulates deceptive and unfair pricing in the hotel industry. But, “no enforcement action has been taken by the FTC regarding resort fees.”

Can You Refuse to Pay a Resort Tax?

Some have succeeded in not paying resort fees or getting a refund, but it can be a lengthy and difficult process. There are several ways you can go about this, including refusing to pay anything other than the online advertised price, disputing the charge with your credit card company, or filing a complaint with the attorney general.

As of right now, it looks like resort fees are here to stay. Whether or not you decide to fight or dispute it is up to you. 

Pro Tip: Apart from resort tax, these are 7 Unexpected RV Expenses you should be prepared to pay.

Be Prepared for Hidden Fees

There’s no doubt about it: resort fees are unfair and deceptive pricing practices. Not all places charge resort fees, but it’s best to double-check before booking. Call your campground before booking and look into local and state laws on tourism taxes before paying for your next campsite.

Have you ever encountered resort fees?

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1 comment

  1. When a county or city charges a room tax, it becomes taxation without representation. I communicate with officials when such a tax is excessive. They know when they lost a visitor.

    Talk with the campground to ensure such hidden fees don’t magically appear.

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