Congressman proposes federal tax on port of entry shipments
Fast on the heels of several newly imposed container taxes at the Southern California ports, an Inland Empire congressman plans to proposed federal legislation that would impose a maximum $500 tax on all cargo shipments moving through U.S. ports of entry to raise money for national trade corridor projects.
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, plans to introduce the legislation soon and estimates that the tax could raise $3 billion to $5 billion a year during its proposed 10-year life.
Unlike two recent per-TEU taxes imposed by officials at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Calvert's plan would impose a 0.075 percent tax on the value of each shipment entering or exiting the nation's more than 300 ports of entry, including seaports, airports and border crossings. The details of what exactly would comprise a single shipment under Calvert's plan have not been determined yet, however Calvert has said that a single shipment could comprise more than one container.
He is also proposing a $500 maximum tax per shipment, regardless of maximum value. This would equate to the maximum $500 tax being applied to any single shipment worth just under $7,000.
A 2006 University of Berkley study found that the average value of the goods in a container shipped by the Southern California ports' top importers ranged from about $12,000 per TEU to nearly $30,000 per TEU. These importers include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, Sears/K-Mart and Ikea.
Calvert's plan calls for the taxes to be used within 300 miles of the port they are collected at and used only for goods-movement related projects. In the case of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports this would mean any project between the Pacific Coast near Los Angeles and Las Vegas in neighboring Nevada. A commission set up in each state by the legislation would determine the projects, which could only receive 80 percent of their total cost from the collected taxes and the remained coming from local agencies.
Calvert said that while he is gathering support for the legislation, he does not yet have the support of key transportation sectors such as retailers and the railroads. Calvert will also seek to garner the support of a senator who will introduce similar legislation in the U.S. Senate. ' Keith Higginbotham