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House Bill Adds Tax on Imports, Exports
Friday, 24 July 2009 00:00

Shippers would pay ad valorem fee for infrastructure improvements

Shippers would pay an ad valorem fee on imports and exports if Congress passes a bill supported by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill.

The ON TIME Act of 2009 (Our Nation’s Trade, Infrastructure, Mobility, and Efficiency) would designate “national gateway corridors” that would radiate inland from any port of entry, whether by ocean, land or air, Calvert told a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Thursday.

Calvert said shippers would pay 0.075 percent of the value of their goods, to a maximum of $500. Revenue would be deposited in a gateway fund to be used for transportation and intermodal infrastructure improvements.

Grants from the fund would be disbursed by the Department of Transportation in amounts equal to the money collected by each gateway corridor, Calvert said. For example, revenue collected by the port of Charleston would be used for infrastructure projects in the Charleston corridor.

Calvert’s bill does not specify if the new fee would be in addition to or deducted from the existing Harbor Maintenance Tax. Customs and Border Protection assesses the tax at 0.125 percent of cargo value. In 1998 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the HMT on exports was unconstitutional.

Another proposal to use a substantially higher HMT to pay for infrastructure has been filed by Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif. Unlike Calvert’s bill the Richardson bill does not cap the amount a shipper would pay on goods.

Journal of Commerce, 7/24/2009