Motor Fuels Tax Minute, Episode 28: The Harbor Maintenance Fee

In this week’s episode of Motor Fuels Tax Minute, our hosts answer a listener’s question and discuss the harbor maintenance fee.


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Detailed Description of Weaver's Motor Fuels Tax Minute, Episode 28


Kelly: Welcome to Weaver's Motor Fuels Tax Minute, where we talk all things motor fuel. Leanne is starting us off today with a question from one of our listeners regarding the harbor maintenance fee.

Leanne, what information do you have to share with our viewers?


Leanne: Thanks Kelly, and thanks for the question.

The harbor maintenance fee is a customs user fee on all vessel movements in and out of US ports. This includes imports and domestic movements. We find that quite often because it's a customs user fee, a lot of people don't know about it. It's imposed one time on any movement, either at the time of loading or at the time of discharge. The most common way I see it is at the time of loading, but customs doesn't specify.

There's some exemptions, intraport movements would be an example, such as some movements up in Alaska or some ports that are exempt. But by and large, the rule of thumb is that if you've got product that is moving via vessel within the United States or being imported into the United States, it's subject to this fee.

It's reported quarterly to US Customs on US Customs form, so it's a separate method than with the IRS. One big note to point out is that exports are exempt. It was formerly imposed on exports of fuel that were loaded in the United States, but a number of years ago that was found to be unconstitutional. The only time you don't have to pay the harbor maintenance fee is when you're exporting fuel. Otherwise, all port movements look for that fee on your invoice, ask your supplier if you're the customer at the other end, or in charge of it if you're the supplier.


Emilda: That's really good information, Leanne. I learned something new. I heard about it, but I didn't know enough about it. I'm glad that you were able to provide a little bit more insight to that.

That wraps up this week's Motor Fuels Tax Minute. Again, just a friendly reminder, if you have any topics you would like for us to address, please drop it in the comment section. If we pick your topic, we will get you some Weaver Swag.

Thank you for joining.

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Leanne Sobel

Leanne Sobel

Director, Motor Fuels and Excise Tax Services


Leanne Sobel, J.D., has over 15 years of experience in legal tax matters. Her career focus includes federal and state tax and…

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