Car rental tax in Germany

Old Oct 21st, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Car rental tax in Germany

Does anybody have the latest on the 19% tax imposed on car rentals in Germany? Last I checked you could save yourself a hefty bundle by picking your car up in town instead of at the airport or a train station. Reading a few Fodor posts from a year or two ago, some were claiming that there is no such tax and that it's a scam by the rental companies to soak the tourists. I set up my current booking with Avis with pick-up in downtown Berlin but my reservation still shows that 19% fee. I'm not sure if I can fight to get it waived or not. Please helfen!
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 04:24 PM
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19% is VAT (value-added tax) imposed by government on goods and services in Germany and cannot be avoided. What you need to look out for is any premum location charge by the rental company for airport pickup. VAT went up from 16 to 19% from the start of 2007.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Since the VAT rate in Germany is also 19% - are you sure you aren't just looking at normal, run of the mill VAT and not a special rental car tax???
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 04:25 PM
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was posting the same time as Alec . . . . .
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 04:26 PM
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ira
 
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Hi Z,

There is an extra charge for pickup at airports and some train stations. That might be what you are seeing.

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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 04:57 PM
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Yes Ira, that's what I'm referring to.

But you see, I DID book pick-up at a non-airport, non-Bahnhof location yet my reservation stills lists the fee. Is that an error? If I get stuck with that same fee/tax whether I pick-up downtown or at Tegel, I may as well pick-up at the airport where there are more cars and a better chance, perhaps, of getting an upgrade.

In particular, I'm referring to this old thread:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34727619.

I've have since seen other posters claim that they saved money by picking up their rentals off airport. I was hoping to find something "official" to throw back at Avis in order to save me almost $300.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:16 PM
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It's not a "fee" it's VAT - that is Value Added Tax - the German equivalent of sales tax - and is 19% everywhere in the country.

What you need to watch for is additional fees levied by the car rental agency for pick up at the airport.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:39 PM
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They don't call it "Flughafenzuschlag" (airport fee) anymore, but use terms like "Servicegebühr" or "Standortzuschlag" that sound nicer and reflect the fact that they rip you off whereever possible and not just at the airport. This comes in addition to the 19% VAT (MWST) tax you have to pay anyway. This "service fee" is also 19% with most rental companies and is paid in addition to the 19% tax. I managed to get that fee waived twice in Munich with Europcar at the airport, but those were special offers/rates.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:57 PM
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I think the only official way of not being charged location service fee is if you pick up in a small town, like Augsburg or Rosenheim (with the added disadvantages of restricted opening hours and smaller car selection). Rental offices in all large cities (Greater Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt etc) all carry this charge. Play around online with different locations to see if there's any variation in charges.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 07:24 PM
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Go thru gemut.com.
You might get an Avis car, but without the hosing-fee, or another company's car; but at least you'd have made a third party with no financial interest aware of your misgiving
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 10:57 PM
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The rental car companies say that the airports and stations charge them royally for the use of their facilities, and thus it adds up to the regular rental price. Honestly, I don't know if that's true, or if they just want to make some extra easy €€.

In real life, there are still many off-airport and off-station rental locations in major cities. So, no need to go to Rosenheim to avoid a Munich train station surcharge.

Whether that item of 19% on your rental are the 19% VAT or 19% service fee (which should not apply at your non-AP location) may only know Avis.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:11 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Z,

>Yes Ira, that's what I'm referring to.

You are being ripped off.

I suggest you try www.gemut.com and www.autoeurope.com.

You won't get a higher rate.

They guarantee to better any other quotes.

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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 07:08 PM
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Zeus, we have saved $$$ by picking up our rental car in Kelsterbach, about 6 miles from Frankfurt Airport. Go to www.autoeurope.com or any other rental car website and put Berlin in as your pick up and return location. Then go in and put in another non-airport city closest to Berlin and choose the same rental car/class and see what the $$$ difference is. You can still return the car to Berlin airport at no extra charge.

I also agree that you should check with Bob Bestor at Gemut.com (phone number is on their website). They are great about explaining rates and working with you to get you the best available rate for your car class.
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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Update to my own thread and question.....

I successfully navigated through Berlin, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria with a 9 psgr van booked through Avis. I picked-up the car in Downtown Berlin and returned to Munich airport and just as BettyK said, I WAS NOT charged the rental car ripoff fee. I still had to pay the VAT like everyone else (they should allow us tourists a refund on that cost). Between my $1600 rental and 5 fillups at $90+ each time, I more than did my part in bolstering the Eastern European economy.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. We loved the trip so much that we are going to repeat it next Christmas. I've already started booking my hotels.
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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Glad you had a great trip!
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 04:47 PM
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Hmmm... I recently reserved a car through Avis to be picked up in downtown Vienna and dropped off at the Salzburg airport. I will post my rate below. I am looking closer now and it looks like I am getting charged the 19% VAT plus another mysterious 20%. I thought the "rule" was that you paid a 20% premium to pick up a car at an airport, but you didn't pay a premium to return it to an airport. Wrong?

Your Base Rate for a 11 day(s) 23 hour(s) rental is: 380.95 USD
Surcharge : 76.07 USD
Additional surcharges (some of which are mandatory) may apply to this booking.
Tax: 90.32 USD ( 20.000%)
Approximate Total: 547.34 USD
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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I don't know what size car you are renting, but for our trip in Sept 2007, I rented our economy car thru gemut.com. I got a one-class upgrade and paid a total of $593 for a 3 week rental. We picked the car up in Kelsterbach and returned in to the Frankfurt Airport.

I believe that taxes in Austria ARE higher than in Germany. My advice to you is the same I gave Zeus -- call Gemut and see what they will quote you for the same car you have reserved thru Avis. I'm assuming that you can cancel your Avis rental w/o penalty. They can also answer your questions about the taxes, etc. Can't hurt.
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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Hi bettyk,

I did get a quote from Gemut already and it was about $15 higher than the Avis rate I was able to get using the American Airlines FF discount code.
Perhaps, as you proposed, Austria taxes are just higher? The rental car expense is certainly higher than I'd budgeted for but it's not a tripwrecker or anything as we always leave extra room in the budget.
Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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ttt for the daytime crowd
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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TexasAggie - Be sure to buy your highway toll vignette when you're in Austria. I was halfway across the country before a cop stopped and asked me why I didn't have one. Luckily he was amused by my high school German and just directed me to the nearest gas station where I bought one for my windshield.

Just another added cost to go along with the 19% VAT, $8 a gallon gas and the need to continually refill your windshield washer reservoir because of all the salt/chemicals the Europeans love to spray on the road.

But I have to give them their pops: Didn't see a single pothole over nearly 2000 miles of driving and roads were kept snow-free despite constant "significant snow events".
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