Case Dealing With Unlawful Confiscation of Property
Shoe argued that the Harbor Maintenance Tax was a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment because it was an unlawful confiscation of its property:
In United States Shoe Corporation v. United States, 296 F.3d 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2002), certiorari denied, 538 U.S. 1056, 155 L. Ed. 2d 1105, 123 S. Ct. 2214 (2003), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that the payment of interest on a refund of the Harbor Maintenance Tax was not mandated by either statute or the United States Constitution.
Congress enacted the Harbor Maintenance Tax (Tax) as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, 26 U.S.C. 4461-4462.
Under the Tax, a 0.125 percent ad valorem tax on commercial cargo was levied for any port use.
In 1995, the Court of International Trade determined that the tax imposed on exports was unconstitutional because it violated the Export Clause.
The Court of International Trade also determined that interest was due on the refund of the tax payment.
The award of interest was stayed until appellate proceedings regarding the constitutionality of the Tax were concluded.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the unconstitutionality of the Tax, United States Shoe Corporation v. United States, 114 F.3d 1564 (Fed. Cir. 1997), as did the United States Supreme Court. United States v. United States Shoe Corporation, 523 U.S. 360, 140 L. Ed. 2d 453, 118 S. Ct. 1290 (1998).
The United States asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse the award of interest, which it did.
With respect to whether the prejudgment interest constituted a taking under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Court concluded that it did not:
Shoe argues that the Harbor Maintenance Tax was a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment because it was an unlawful confiscation of its property.
We do not agree.
The government's act of taxation here was not a per se taking of private property. . . .Nor is the tax a regulatory taking: 'Regulatory actions requiring the payment of money are not takings' . . . .
A 'reasonable user fee is not a taking if it is imposed for the reimbursement of the cost of government services'. . . . Here, the fee was declared unconstitutional because it was proportional to the value of the exported goods and not the actual use of the harbors. . . . But it was not excessive. Under [United States v.] Sperry [, 493 U.S. 52, 107 L. Ed. 2d 290, 110 S. Ct. 387 (1989)], a user fee of 1.5 percent 'does not qualify as a 'taking' by any standard of excessiveness' . . . . Similarly, purely by its amount, 0.125 percent, . . ., the Harbor Maintenance Tax must be considered reasonable. U.S. Shoe, 296 F.3d at 1383.