NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 4, 2008

The Affordable Footwear Act (AFA) would repeal the disproportionate tariffs on shoe imports.  High protectionist tariffs on inexpensive footwear hit the poor hardest, raising the price of a basic necessity.  Congress should repeal the tariffs and help all Americans save a few dollars on their next pair of work boots, pumps, or sneakers. say Edward Gresser of the Progressive Policy Institute, and Daniella Markheim of  the Heritage Foundation.

Shoe tariffs harm families -- especially those with low incomes -- inflating the cost of the cheapest shoes by about a third:

  • A $2.28 pair of sneakers arriving at the border is assessed a 48 percent excise tax, adding $1.09 to the price, which is passed along to shoppers.
  • To put the tax in perspective, the $1.09 border tax is roughly three times the 39-cent federal tax on a $2.28 pack of cigarettes, four times the national gas tax, and twice the $13.50-per-gallon tax on whiskey, vodka, and other spirits.
  • And as the sneakers travel through the supply chain on the way to the retailer's shelf, the tariffs are magnified by retail markups and state sales taxes.

Overall, tariffs raise shoe costs by about 10 percent:

  • Shoes account for just one percent of total imports but raise almost $1.9 billion out of $25 billion in annual U.S. tariff tax revenue, about 8 percent of the total.
  • After markups and sales taxes, shoe tariffs made up $4 billion to $5 billion of the $55 billion Americans spent on shoes last year.

The Affordable Footwear Act would make the next pair more affordable for low-income families.  Congress should give America's households a little extra help by repealing the archaic, unnecessary, and regressive tariffs on shoe imports, say Gresser and Markheim.

Source: Edward Gresser and Daniella Markheim, "Cut Shoe Tariffs to Help Low-Income Families," Heritage Foundation, WebMemo No. 1756, December 21, 2007.

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