Affordable Footwear Act Would Trim Shoe Costs for U.S. Consumers

By:  Apparel Magazine – Staff Writer
Source: Apparel Magazine

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) welcomed the U.S. Senate introduction of the Affordable Footwear Act, legislation that would eliminate the hidden and regressive tax on most low-cost and children's shoes.

The Affordable Footwear Act (S. 1633) was introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mike Johanns (R-NE).

"If there was ever an opportunity for Washington to improve its public image with the American people, the Affordable Footwear Act is it," said AAFA president and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  "The Senate and House now have a valuable opportunity to work together in a bipartisan way and offer hardworking American families a real cost savings at the cash register."

The Affordable Footwear Act will ease the tax burden on American consumers who unknowingly pay more than 25 percent beyond the cost of a pair of shoes at retail to cover the import duty, or shoe tax, on shoes made outside of the United States. In 2012, more than 98 percent of the shoes purchased in the U.S. were produced outside the U.S., so there is virtually no way for hardworking American families to avoid this outdated tax.

"Once passed by both chambers and signed into law, the Affordable Footwear Act will eliminate the hidden taxes on low-cost and children's shoes and create valuable footwear jobs right here in the United States," Burke said.  "We will continue working to pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible."

American families in the market for affordable and low-cost shoes for themselves and their children pay a higher import duty, as high as 65.7 percent, than if they were to purchase luxury brand shoes.

After its passage, the Affordable Footwear Act would eliminate about $800 million in duties on children's and low-cost shoes out of the $2.3 billion in total duties collected on imported shoes in 2012. Undeniably, shoes are a life necessity, and the hidden and regressive shoe tax places too high a burden on hardworking American families at a time when they can least afford it.

While the Affordable Footwear Act eliminates the import duties on low-cost and children's footwear no longer made in the United States, AAFA recognizes that there remains a small, but vibrant, U.S. footwear manufacturing industry.  The Affordable Footwear Act protects this industry while helping U.S. consumers.

Quick passage of the Affordable Footwear Act will be a positive step towards restoring consumer confidence, increasing retail sales and protecting vital jobs in the U.S. footwear industry.