Harbor Maintenance Tax

The Harbor Maintenance Tax is an interesting component of the US freight shipping process. Essentially, shippers pay this tax, which is calculated on the value of the cargo that is being shipped into US ports. The Harbor Maintenance Tax brings in annual revenue of about $1.6 billion. Those funds are used specifically to cover the costs of projects at the various US ports, such as dredging projects. That is why when a shipper gets an ocean freight quote into the US, the Harbor Maintenance Tax is always something to consider.

Some shippers try to dodge the Harbor Maintenance Tax when they can. They might import their cargo through a port in Canada, and then truck it to the US to avoid paying the tax. The problem with this strategy is that US ports desperately need the funding for various dredging projects. Most US freight forwarders will not even recommend this plan.

Currently in the US, there are talks of a Maritime Goods Movement Act. This bill would essentially extend the Harbor Maintenance Tax to include containers that are going to the US by way of Canada and Mexico. This bill would help provide more funds to the ports that need help the most. Canadian officials overwhelmingly do not support this bill. Canada is concerned that this new tax could diminish the trade between the US and Canada, and this new tax expansion could result in a massive loss of jobs. We will wait and see if this new bill gets made into law and what the real impact will be.