The great passport gouge
In a year when U.S. and Canadian citizens were more or less forced to acquire passports en masse, there was very little comfort to be offered for the time and money travelers spent papering up. Hours of lines, fees upon fees upon fees... it was a weary year for travelers. But for the U.S. government, the passport rush had its benefits:
Over the past year, as the government issued nearly 14 million new passports, it collected at least $111.4 million more in passport fees than its stated costs, according to calculations by The Associated Press based on figures from State Department and congressional investigators.
The $30 is intended to cover the cost of clerks examining and accepting passport applications at post offices, State Department passport offices, courthouses, libraries, municipal offices and universities.
The investigators' findings? The government's $30 fee was roughly double the actual cost when imposed in 2002. The Postal Service, which operates 5,382 locations where people can apply for passports, estimated its costs at $13.31 in 2002. The State Department, which operates 14 passport offices, said its costs were $16.20 at that time.