Which item do you think has the most federal taxes and fees attached to it: (1) a can of Budweiser, (2) a carton of Marlboro Reds, (3) a Smith & Wesson Centennial revolver, or (4) a roundtrip airline ticket from Chicago to St. Louis?
If you guessed the beer, cigarettes, or gun, you'd be wrong. Federal taxes and fees tally up to about 5% for the beer, 18.2% for the cigarettes, and 10% for the revolver. But buying an airline ticket pushes the boundaries of government taxation, initiating a slew of taxes and fees most of us never knew existed -- a passenger ticket tax, a flight segment tax, a frequent-flier tax, a cargo waybill tax, a commercial jet fuel tax, and a 9/11 fee, just to name a few. I recently found a reasonably priced fare of just $151 for that roundtrip ticket to St. Louis. But tack on the fees and taxes and the total price came to $185.80, a markup of more than 20%.