• ITVI.USA
    15,415.310
    54.710
    0.4%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.761
    -0.007
    -0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    -0.300
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,387.520
    55.710
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,415.310
    54.710
    0.4%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.761
    -0.007
    -0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    -0.300
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,387.520
    55.710
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Ports look for ways to collect, allocate tax funds

Oregon Congressman Pete DeFazio is “hopeful” money will be dispersed from the projected $10 billion Harbor Maintenance Fund balance.

   As House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Pete DeFazio, D-Ore., said he was “hopeful” for passage of pending legislation aiming to disperse more funds from this year’s projected $10 billion balance of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), U.S. port representatives during a Friday field hearing discussed alternatives for collecting and allocating the tax money.
   Introduced in April 2017, the Investing In America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act would make certain disbursements to ports from the HMTF equivalent to port use tax receipts available without further appropriation, including expenditures to cover up to 100 percent of eligible operations and maintenance costs assigned to commercial navigation of all U.S. and inland harbors.
   The bill, introduced by DeFazio and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., remains pending in the House at the committee level.
   “I’m hopeful that common sense will prevail this time,” DeFazio said during a House T&I Water Subcommittee hearing exploring concepts for the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in Coos Bay, Ore. “If we’re collecting a tax from the American people, then we should spend it on the intent of Congress.”
   Similar language was dropped from the 2016 WRDA after the bill advanced from committee. Congress passed the legislation in September of that year.
   As Congress works to develop future WRDA legislation, it should consider firmly defining HMTF disbursement determinations according to ports’ per-capita economic output, return on investment and the number of rescues at the port, said Tom Calvanese, president of the port commission for the Port of Port Orford, Ore.
   “If you look at [Port Orford], per capita, it’s a pretty productive little town, but that doesn’t get incorporated in the metrics that are laid out thus far,” he said.
   Port Orford houses about 1,200 people.
   Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves, R-La., asked witnesses whether Congress should consider alternatives to the way Harbor Maintenance Taxes (HMTs) are currently collected. An HMT is an ad valorem tax of 0.125 percent of the value of commercial imports, domestic shipments and foreign-trade zone admissions shipped through identified ports. HMTs currently aren’t collected on air shipments.
   Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Executive Director Kristin Meira highlighted an active legislative proposal by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., to replace the current collection method with a bill of lading fee to be imposed on every piece of cargo that moves by any transportation mode in the United States.
   “If we continue to use this collection mechanism and try to base the allocation, somewhat, upon where the funds come from, candidly, you’re not guaranteeing a return on investment” for certain ports, Graves said.
   Oregon Albacore Commission Chairman Rick Goche said if Congress considers a new HMT revenue model, it shouldn’t be now because it could result in not being able to fund currently critical projects at various ports amid continuing HMTF disbursement barriers.

Brian Bradley

Based in Washington, D.C., Brian covers international trade policy for American Shipper and FreightWaves. In the past, he covered nuclear defense, environmental cleanup, crime, sports, and trade at various industry and local publications.

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