Proposed Legislation Would More Than Triple Harbor Maintenance Tax
On May 12, 2009, Representative Laura Richardson (D-CA), along with other co-sponsors, introduced the Making Opportunities via Efficient and More Effective National Transportation (MOVEMENT) Act of 2009. The bill (H.R. 2355) would establish a National Goods Movement Improvement Fund to provide funding for infrastructure projects to improve the movement of goods, mitigate environmental damage caused by the movement of goods, and enhance the security of transported goods. Highlights of the bill include:
* Increased HMT: The bill would more than triple the Harbor Maintenance Tax ("HMT") on port use to 0.4375% (from 0.125%) of the value of the commercial cargo involved. (The bill would also impose a tax on commercial cargo entering the customs territory of the U.S. other than by port use following foreign port use at 0.3125% of the value of the commercial cargo involved).
* Authority to Reduce HMT: The bill would also grant authority to reduce the HMT at individual ports where port use is subject to a State or local fee for infrastructure enhancement. The authorized reduction would be the lesser of the State or local fee or 10% of the otherwise applicable HMT.
* Liability for HMT: The HMT for port use would be paid by the importer at the time of unloading. In the case of commercial cargo entering the U.S. following foreign port use, the importer would be liable for the tax at the time the commercial cargo enters the customs territory of the U.S.
* Effective Date: The amendments to the HMT would apply to port use and commercial cargo entering the U.S. on or after on the 90th day after the date of the enactment of the MOVEMENT Act.
* Creation of Fund: The bill would create a National Goods Movement Improvement Fund. 71.43% of the taxes collected under the increased HMT would be appropriated to the National Goods Movement Improvement Fund.
* Authorization of Program: The bill would authorize the Transportation Secretary to carry out a National Goods Movement Improvement Program to provide funding for eligible projects using amounts appropriated out of the National Goods Movement Improvement Fund.
* Sunset Provision: The authority of the Secretary of Transportation to make grants under the National Goods Movement Improvement Program would sunset on October 1, 2019