RULING ALLOWS FULL HARBOR TAX REFUND FOR SOME EXPORTERS
A federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruling will entitle some exporters to full refunds of the harbor maintenance tax, erasing the previous two-year limit.
The federal Circuit's ruling overturned an October 1998 U.S. Court of International Trade decision, which said that certain statutes created a two-year statute of limitation for exporters to claim refunds.
In the ruling, on a suit filed by Swisher International Inc., the federal Circuit noted the procedure Swisher followed in requesting a refund from Customs and its subsequent protest once Customs' denied its request. The limit, the court said, was placed on shippers who directly filed court suits in either U.S. district courts or the Court of International Trade.
The National Industrial Transportation League, in reporting the ruling, said the federal Circuit's decision will allow other shippers to follow the same procedure as Swisher to obtain refunds beyond the two-year period.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March 1998 that the harbor maintenance tax was unconstitutional as applied to exports.
The tax was enacted in 1986 and was levied at 4 cents per $100 of cargo value. The tax was more than tripled to 12.5 cents per $100 in 1990.
U.S. Customs refunded more than $700 million in harbor taxes to shippers last year.