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INLAND WATERWAYS INDUSTRY BLASTS 525 PERCENT FUEL TAX HIKE PROPOSAL

 GAO Study Reveals Impact of Almost $12 Billion
 in Maritime Taxes and Fees
 WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The devastating impact of a proposed 525 percent fuel tax increase on the nation's inland waterway transportation industry was outlined today before a joint congressional hearing on the impact of the $11.9 billion in federal fees and assessments already levied on the maritime industry.
 The waterways user tax proposed by the administration Feb. 18 would raise the diesel fuel tax burden on the inland barge industry from 19 cents per gallon to $1.19 per gallon -- a 525 percent hike.
 "One would expect that rather than mandating an ever-increasing list of fees, quintupling the inland fuel tax and leveling a BTU tax, the federal government should instead be boosting this transportation mode by advocating programs which lower costs for the industry," said Joe Farrell, president of the American Waterways Operators, the national trade association of the inland and coastal barge and towing industry, in testimony today before a joint hearing of the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee and the Merchant Marine Subcommittee of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
 "This proposed tax, if enacted, would capture approximately 25 percent of the industry's annual revenues. No industry in America could survive such a blow," Farrell said. Farrell pointed out that President Clinton himself seems to have acknowledged that the proposed tax was wrong. Farrell said that in a March 1 CBS News interview, the president stated that the inland waterways fuel tax issue "needs to be re-examined."
 The joint hearing at which Farrell appeared concerned a recently- released GAO study titled "Federal Assessments Levied on Commercial Vessels." According to the study, some 12 federal agencies levy 117 individual assessments on the maritime industry, totalling $11.9 billion, including $1.9 billion in user fees and taxes and $9.9 billion in Customs duties on goods transported by vessel. According to the GAO, for FY 1992, revenue projections will raise the maritime industry user fee total to $2.1 billion. GAO estimates that there are 28 pending fee assessments already in the works which will add another $23.5 million in FY 1993, increasing to an estimated $40.3 million in FY 1997.
 "Clearly, this study, which does not include state and local assessments, establishes that we are already a heavily taxed industry; unfortunately, even greater tax burdens lie ahead," Farrell said. He said that the inland waterways industry simply cannot afford such a burdensome tax, stating that "The revenues generated by this industry are far less than the contribution level the administration is asking us to make."
 -0- 3/25/93
 /NOTE: Full text of Farrell's testimony is available from the contact./
 /CONTACT: Jeffrey A. Smith or Curtis E. Whalen of the American Waterways Operators, 703-841-9300/


CO: American Waterways Operators ST: District of Columbia IN: MAR SU:

TW-DC -- DC005 -- 9413 03/25/93 09:13 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 25, 1993
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