Aviation, Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Tax Receipts Up Significantly in FY18

Aviation, Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Tax Receipts Up Significantly in FY18

October 19, 2018  | Jeff Davis

October 19, 2018

As part of the Treasury Department’s year-end financial reporting for fiscal year 2018, new reports from the Bureau of the Public Debt show that excise tax receipts for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund grew by 5 percent versus last year, while customs duties received by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund were up by 9 percent.

(Excise tax receipts for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund were only up by 1.1 percent over last year.)

Aviation. Treasury (unhelpfully) does not record the receipts of the 7.5 percent tax on airfares, the receipts of the passenger flight segment tax, the receipts of the Alaska/Hawaii flight segment tax, and the 7.5 percent tax on frequent flier miles separately – they bundle them together into one line called “transportation of persons,” which is up by 4.1 percent over last year. Taxes on international arrivals and departures were up by 6.5 percent, and the receipts from the air cargo waybill tax were up by 7.1 percent.

Receipts from the various aviation fuel taxes (including transfers from the Highway Trust Fund for jet fuel originally taxed as its chemical twin, diesel fuel) were up by a combined 5.9 percent.

Airport and Airway Trust Fund Receipts

Millions of dollars. Unaudited Treasury reporting.
FY17 FY18 Increase
Transportation of persons 10,069.3 10,485.0 +415.6 +4.1%
Transportation of property 504.8 540.4 +35.6 +7.1%
International air facilities 3,844.4 4,093.3 +248.8 +6.5%
Commercial jet fuel 432.4 420.5 -11.9 -2.8%
Aviation gasoline 23.2 31.7 +8.5 +36.6%
Kerosene from HTF 189.3 232.4 +43.2 +22.8%
Other fuel/fractionals 6.3 4.6 -1.6 -26.1%
Refunds/returns 23.9 10.3 -13.6 -56.8%
Interest income 281.8 299.3 +17.5 +6.2%
TOTAL AATF DEPOSITS 15,375.3 16,117.5 +742.2 +4.8%

Harbor maintenance. The various customs duties that support the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund were up by 9.0 percent in 2018 versus 2017. Separately, interest income on the gargantuan $9+ billion balance in the Trust Fund rose by 65 percent due to the increased interest rate environment, so total receipts and interest for the Trust Fund were up by almost 13 percent in 2018.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Receipts

Millions of dollars. Unaudited Treasury reporting.
FY17 FY18 Increase
Customs – Imports 1,132.8 1,244.8 +111.9 +9.9%
Customs – Foreign Trade 168.6 173.4 +4.8 +2.9%
Customs – Passengers 14.5 15.5 +1.0 +7.0%
Customs – Domestics 72.3 79.5 +7.2 +9.9%
Interest Income 83.7 148.7 +65.0 +77.7%
TOTAL HMTF DEPOSITS 1,471.9 1,661.8 +190.0 +12.9%

As reported separately in this week’s ETW by Alex Laska, U.S. port activity surged this year with shippers trying to get goods into the United States before the onset of Trump tariffs. Since the HMTF customs duties are based on the dollar value of cargo, the tariffs may significantly downgrade HMTF receipts in FY 2019.

As has been noted repeatedly in prior ETW articles, the balance buildup in the HMTF has been a long time coming. We are not 100 percent sure of the final balance in the HMTF because it takes Treasury a few weeks longer to report detailed outlays than it does to record detailed receipts. The Treasury report linked above only shows transfers from Treasury to the Corps of Engineers, and the final outlays may be a couple of million dollars different from that number. But it appears that, despite a significant increase in spending by the Appropriations Committees, the Trust Fund at the end of FY18 was between $9.3 and $9.4 billion, up from $9.1 billion at the end of FY17.

30 Years of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Cash Flow

Millions of dollars. Some BOY balances don’t quite sync up with the previous year’s EOY balances, but this is because of subsequent re-estimates – these are the actual numbers printed in the annual Treasury and OMB documents.
FY 1989 FY 1990 FY 1991 FY 1992 FY 1993 FY 1994 FY 1995 FY 1996 FY 1997 FY 1998
BOY Balance 9 12 30 73 121 302 451 621 866 1,106
Receipts & Interest 183 198 397 531 650 646 701 741 789 651
Outlays -181 -180 -353 -483 -466 -497 -531 -495 -550 -511
EOY Balance 11 30 74 121 305 451 621 867 1,106 1,246
FY 1999 FY 2000 FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008
BOY Balance 1,246 1,556 1,621 1,777 1,850 2,001 2,299 2,695 3,234 3,751
Receipts & Interest 607 767 816 730 737 946 1,102 1,337 1,427 1,594
Outlays -297 -702 -660 -657 -586 -648 -706 -798 -910 -786
EOY Balance 1,556 1,621 1,777 1,850 2,001 2,299 2,695 3,234 3,751 4,559
FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018
BOY Balance 4,559 5,003 5,474 6,280 6,958 7,806 8,316 8,684 8,777 9,100
Receipts & Interest 1,253 1,299 1,629 1,587 1,696 1,617 1,517 1,387 1,474 1,662
Outlays -808 -828 -823 -909 -848 -1,107 -1,149 -1,295 -1,150 -1,436
EOY Balance 5,003 5,474 6,280 6,958 7,806 8,316 8,684 8,777 9,100 9,345
FY18 outlays shown above are the transfers from Treasury to the Corps and may be slightly different when atual outlays are reported by the Corps in the coming days.
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