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Legislation Would Prevent Shippers from Avoiding Port User Fee, More Money For Ports

August 19, 2013

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe

U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. have introduced legislation to provide more money for American ports, including many in the Pacific Northwest, by closing a loophole.

They claim the Harbor Maintenance Tax, a long-established tax on imports that funds the operation and maintenance of America’s large and small ports, is not being fully collected, and because of that, American ports can’t make the infrastructure investments they need.

Specifically, the Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century would, repeal the Harbor Maintenance Tax and replace it with the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee, the proceeds of which would be fully available to Congress to provide for port operation and maintenance. They say this would double the amount of funds available for American ports.

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It would also ensure that shippers cannot avoid the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee by using ports in Canada and Mexico, and would set aside a portion of the user fee for low-use, remote, and subsistence harbors that are at a competitive disadvantage for federal funding.

The legislation would also create a competitive grant program, using a percentage of the collected user fees to improve the U.S. intermodal transportation system, so imported goods and goods for export can more efficiently reach their intended destinations.

The two senators say the measure would also pay for expanded infrastructure investments by closing loopholes that allow the largest oil and gas companies in America to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies every year they say, even though they enjoy profits in excess of $100 billion annually.

“Senator Cantwell and I have worked with small and large ports here in Washington state, the business community, and labor leaders to write the Maritime Goods Movement Act, which will make desperately needed improvements to the laws that impact ports of all sizes and business large and small,  exporters and importers,” Senator Murray said. “This legislation will change the Harbor Maintenance Tax to give shippers new incentives to move their goods through American ports, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest.”

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