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Harbor Maintenance Tax
This law was enacted in 1986 and has been subsequently amended, most notably to remove exports from its scope. The text shown here is as codified in Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

 

 


See also the customs service fees, the 2011 amendments to those fees, and the CENTRAL guide to Market Access.

 

 

 


§4461. Imposition of Tax

(a) General rule

There is hereby imposed a tax on any port use.

(b) Amount of tax

The amount of the tax imposed by subsection (a) on any port use shall be an amount equal to 0.125 percent of the value of the commercial cargo involved.

(c) Liability and time of imposition of tax

(1) Liability

The tax imposed by subsection (a) shall be paid by—

(A) in the case of cargo entering the United States, the importer, or

(B) in any other case, the shipper.

(2) Time of imposition

Except as provided by regulations, the tax imposed by subsection (a) shall be imposed at the time of unloading.

§4462. Definitions and Special Rules

(a) Definitions

For purposes of this subchapter—

(1) Port use

The term “port use” means—

(A) the loading of commercial cargo on, or

(B) the unloading of commercial cargo from,

a commercial vessel at a port.

(2) Port

(A) In general

The term “port” means any channel or harbor (or component thereof) in the United States, which—

(i) is not an inland waterway, and

(ii) is open to public navigation.

(B) Exception for certain facilities

The term “port” does not include any channel or harbor with respect to which no Federal funds have been used since 1977 for construction, maintenance, or operation, or which was deauthorized by Federal law before 1985.

(C) Special rule for Columbia River

The term “port” shall include the channels of the Columbia River in the States of Oregon and Washington only up to the downstream side of Bonneville lock and dam.

(3) Commercial cargo

(A) In general

The term “commercial cargo” means any cargo transported on a commercial vessel, including passengers transported for compensation or hire.

(B) Certain items not included

The term “commercial cargo” does not include—

(i) bunker fuel, ship’s stores, sea stores, or the legitimate equipment necessary to the operation of a vessel, or

(ii) fish or other aquatic animal life caught and not previously landed on shore.

(4) Commercial vessel

(A) In general

The term “commercial vessel” means any vessel used—

(i) in transporting cargo by water for compensation or hire, or

(ii) in transporting cargo by water in the business of the owner, lessee, or operator of the vessel.

(B) Exclusion of ferries

(i) In general

The term “commercial vessel” does not include any ferry engaged primarily in the ferrying of passengers (including their vehicles) between points within the United States, or between the United States and contiguous countries.

(ii) Ferry

The term “ferry” means any vessel which arrives in the United States on a regular schedule during its operating season at intervals of at least once each business day.

(5) Value

(A) In general

The term “value” means, except as provided in regulations, the value of any commercial cargo as determined by standard commercial documentation.

(B) Transportation of passengers

In the case of the transportation of passengers for hire, the term “value” means the actual charge paid for such service or the prevailing charge for comparable service if no actual charge is paid.

(b) Special rule for Alaska, Hawaii, and possessions

(1) In general

No tax shall be imposed under section 4461(a) with respect to—

(A) cargo loaded on a vessel in a port in the United States mainland for transportation to Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the United States for ultimate use or consumption in Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the United States,

(B) cargo loaded on a vessel in Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the United States for transportation to the United States mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, or such a possession for ultimate use or consumption in the United States mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, or such a possession,

(C) the unloading of cargo described in subparagraph (A) or (B) in Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the United States, or in the United States mainland, respectively, or

(D) cargo loaded on a vessel in Alaska, Hawaii, or a possession of the United States and unloaded in the State or possession in which loaded, or passengers transported on United States flag vessels operating solely within the State waters of Alaska or Hawaii and adjacent international waters.

(2) Cargo does not include crude oil with respect to Alaska

For purposes of this subsection, the term “cargo” does not include crude oil with respect to Alaska.

(3) United States mainland

For purposes of this subsection, the term “United States mainland” means the continental United States (not including Alaska).

(c) Coordination of tax where transportation subject to tax imposed by section 4042

No tax shall be imposed under this subchapter with respect to the loading or unloading of any cargo on or from a vessel if any fuel of such vessel has been (or will be) subject to the tax imposed by section 4042 (relating to tax on fuel used in commercial transportation on inland waterways).

(d) Nonapplicability of tax to exports

The tax imposed by section 4461(a) shall not apply to any port use with respect to any commercial cargo to be exported from the United States.

(e) Exemption for United States

No tax shall be imposed under this subchapter on the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof.

(f) Extension of provisions of law applicable to customs duty

(1) In general

Except to the extent otherwise provided in regulations, all administrative and enforcement provisions of customs laws and regulations shall apply in respect of the tax imposed by this subchapter (and in respect of persons liable therefor) as if such tax were a customs duty. For purposes of the preceding sentence, any penalty expressed in terms of a relationship to the amount of the duty shall be treated as not less than the amount which bears a similar relationship to the value of the cargo.

(2) Jurisdiction of courts and agencies

For purposes of determining the jurisdiction of any court of the United States or any agency of the United States, the tax imposed by this subchapter shall be treated as if such tax were a customs duty.

(3) Administrative provisions applicable to tax law not to apply

The tax imposed by this subchapter shall not be treated as a tax for purposes of subtitle F or any other provision of law relating to the administration and enforcement of internal revenue taxes.

(g) Special rules

Except as provided by regulations—

(1) Tax imposed only once

Only 1 tax shall be imposed under section 4461(a) with respect to the loading on and unloading from, or the unloading from and the loading on, the same vessel of the same cargo.

(2) Exception for intraport movements

Under regulations, no tax shall be imposed under section 4461(a) on the mere movement of cargo within a port.

(3) Relay cargo

Only 1 tax shall be imposed under section 4461(a) on cargo (moving under a single bill of lading) which is unloaded from one vessel and loaded onto another vessel at any port in the United States for relay to or from any port in Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the United States. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “cargo” does not include any item not treated as cargo under subsection (b) (2).

(h) Exemption for humanitarian and development assistance cargos

No tax shall be imposed under this subchapter on any nonprofit organization or cooperative for cargo which is owned or financed by such nonprofit organization or cooperative and which is certified by the United States Customs Service as intended for use in humanitarian or development assistance overseas.

(i) Regulations

The Secretary may prescribe such additional regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this subchapter including, but not limited to, regulations—

(1) providing for the manner and method of payment and collection of the tax imposed by this subchapter,

(2) providing for the posting of bonds to secure payment of such tax,

(3) exempting any transaction or class of transactions from such tax where the collection of such tax is not administratively practical, and

(4) providing for the remittance or mitigation of penalties and the settlement or compromise of claims.