Court Upholds HMT Time Limit

January 2003

On August 30, 2002, the Court of International Trade upheld the deadline of December 31, 2001 for filing Harbor Maintenance Tax refund claims. This deadline, imposed by Customs through a regulation, effectively forecloses subsequent claims for refunds of the unconstitutional tax. In this case, the plaintiffs had argued that the regulatory deadline was itself unconstitutional. The Court disagreed and held that the agency has the authority to set time limits for refund claims. In addition, the Court held the regulation is not a violation of the Fifth Amendment prohibition on taking property without just compensation. The Court also held that Customs did not violate the Regulatory Flexibility Act in passing the regulatory deadline.