Tariffs in the United States

Tariffs of the United States in 1899 (United States)

The following information about Tariffs of the United States. is from the Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers.

TARIFFS OF THE UNITED STATES. The theory of tariff taxation has been discussed in this work in the article CUSTOMS DUTIES. The subject of the present article is merely what has been done in the way of tariff legislation in the United States; and mention can be made only of the more important acts, without any attempt to explain all the motives which led to their enactments, or the manifold results that have followed their adoption and administration. And, first, as to the power of congress to impose tariffs. Under the confederation the states retained the taxing power, and left the central body, the congress of the confederation, without any direct means of defraying whatever expenses the necessities of war compelled it to contract. Some attempts were made to secure for it an independent revenue, but they came to naught. On the return of peace, while still maintaining the form of a confederacy, the states, no longer united by a common danger, became, to a great extent, independent, and each managed its concerns with little regard to the interests of the others. Massachusetts had a navigation act, and levied import duties, and other states followed her example. The restrictions and prohibitions imposed on American commerce were vexatious and destructive, and while the congress had power to enter into treaties of reciprocity, it could not retaliate in any way were its offers of trade refused. The power to do this rested in the states individually, but in spite of many propositions to this effect, no uniform or decisive action on their part could be brought about. From 1783 until the adoption of the federal constitution it was generally recognized that congress should have the power to regulate commercial relations between the states and foreign powers, but the supposed interests of the different states presented an effectual bar against action.

The agitators for the regulation of trade in Virginia belonged to that class of the community which in the eastern and middle states was most bitterly set against the measure. In Massachusetts and New York the merchants were the supporters, and the farmers the opponents. In Virginia the planters were to a man united in the opinion that some steps must be taken to mend commercial affairs, and the merchants quite disposed to let trade alone. The reason is obvious. The condition of things to the south of the Potomac was precisely the reverse of the condition of things to the north of the Potomac. Beyond the north bank of the river the farmers throve, and the merchants did a losing business. Beyond the south bank the merchants were daily growing more prosperous, and the planters more impoverished.

(1 McMaster, 272.) The agitation over this question first assumed a definite form in Virginia, and led up to the national trade convention held at Annapolis in 1786, out of which movement arose the federal convention of 1787, which resulted in the framing of the constitution, and the foundation of a central government possessing definite and important functions, and clothed with the power necessary to perform them.

-It would, however, be an error to attribute this action wholly to the commercial needs of the country. The states had just passed through an era of paper money madness, in which each state had vied with the others in excessive issues, with the [857] intention of allowing their inhabitants deeply immersed in debt to free themselves from such burdens. This alone was sufficient to create general poverty, and armed rebellions did occur in many quarters. Manufactures were beginning to arise in New England, and served to turn attention to the development of the internal resources of the country. The jealousies existing among the states had only aggravated the evils arising from mismanaged finances, and in the general scramble for vantage the many restrictions and limitations imposed hindered that industrial growth which, it was confidently believed, would restore prosperity. The folly of thus contending among themselves was seen by the clear headed, and the remedy they believed adequate was an extension of the power of the confederation. The debts contracted by the congress were about to fall due, but the confederation was without resources, and without credit. New York had expressed a willingness to grant to it power to levy duties on imports. Rufus King made a very able report to congress, in which he concluded that the impost was an absolute necessity to the maintenance of the faith of the federal government. While thus agitating for an independent revenue, the government did not cease to urge upon the states the disordered condition of trade and finances, and the advisableness of granting to congress the power to regulate trade. But while commercial reasons were thus at the bottom of the movement, political reasons, quite as cogent, existed in favor of a new distribution of powers, and the action of these two forces, combined, produced the constitution.

-By this important instrument the new government was empowered to levy taxes of every description, and to regulate commerce with foreign nations. In connection with our subject it will be important to bear these two powers in mind, as the one has been made an instrument of the other. The right to levy duties upon imported commodities was conceded, and the only limitation imposed upon its exercise was that the duties should be uniform throughout the land. The question then arises whether the government ought to lay taxes for any other purpose than to raise revenue, which involves the question whether congress may lay taxes to protect and encourage manufactures. The arguments for and against this use of the taxing power will be found in Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution, §§ 959-973, and are summed up as follows:

So that, whichever construction of the power to lay taxes is adopted, the same conclusion is sustained, that the power to lay taxes is not by the constitution confined to purposes of revenue. In point of fact, it has never been limited to such purposes by congress; and all the great functionaries of the government have constantly maintained the doctrine that it was not constitutionally so limited.

It was customary to regulate trade by taxing imports, and this practice was acted upon by all nations at that time. Retaliatory duties were recognized as a proper exercise of power, even when they produced no revenue, and duties primarily intended for revenue purposes might incidentally afford protection to manufactures. The colonies always recognized the right of England to regulate their commerce; but when parliament undertook to levy taxes for another end, they revolted. It might further be said that every civilized nation at that time considered that the power to regulate commerce included the encouragement of manufactures, and acted upon this belief. Some of the states had already adopted regulations which were intended to give such encouragement to their industries, although this encouragement was secured at the expense of the other states; and in ceding this power to make such laws to the general government, it was claimed that the states had expected a continuance of this recognized policy. So that the weight of opinion was in favor of the right to regulate commerce by import duties or other taxes, and chiefly on the ground that the power was generally exercised among nations. From the very first, then, a tariff has been recognized as a measure for raising revenue, for protecting and encouraging domestic manufactures, and as an instrument for regulating commerce. (Story, Comm., §§ 1077-1095.)

More about Tariffs in the Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

-But the conditions which favored these views at the time the constitution was adopted no longer exist, and a very different set of circumstances has arisen to alter in a great measure the opinions on the tax power of the government. At the end of the eighteenth century it was not strange to find the power to regulate trade and commerce with foreign nations granted to congress. Nothing was more natural; for at that time the fiscal and commercial policies of nations were governed by the maxim that no trading or commercial people could ever prosper without regulation of trade, and the more their transactions were regulated by law the higher would be the resulting economic well-being of the country. Regulation however, meant interference and restrictions. Innumerable laws are found on the statute books of nearly every nation that had any trade whatever, which were intended to foster and develop domestic manufactures and domestic commerce. Loans and important immunities were granted by the state to encourage the investment of capital in industrial enterprises; premiums, bounties and drawbacks were offered to producers and exporters; the importation of the raw materials of industry, and the export of manufactured products were unnaturally encouraged; while the importation of such commodities as would come into competition with domestic articles was discouraged by high customs duties, or was even expressly prohibited; the exportation of machinery and the emigration of skilled labor were forbidden under severe penalties; and through discriminating and retaliatory duties a species of commercial war was waged among nations. In fact, the whole system of trade was founded upon regulation, and was to that extent artificial and strained. And in no instance was this result more evident than in the commercial [858] relations which subsisted between a parent country and her colonies, in which all the advantage lay on one side. The American colonies had known no other trading system, and, therefore, believed that the adoption of the same illiberal laws was essential to their existence as an independent power. Their weakness invited insult and harsh laws from other nations; and while one of their first acts after the return of peace was to seek for commercial treaties with European powers, they also sought to protect their commerce with the instruments that were then everywhere employed.

-All of this has changed. As the laws of trade were examined it was seen that they were natural laws, and that any interference with their free play was mischievous, and, instead of creating, destroyed commerce. The suicidal policy of taxing one’s self in order to ward off an imaginary danger, became clearer to practical statesmen; and the old theory, that what one nation gains must be at the expense of another, has given way to a more just and accurate view that believes in leaving trade alone, to be governed by an enlightened self-interest. In spite, however, of this change of feeling, the United States has persisted in continuing along the old ruts, and has only two or three times shown any disposition to accept the truths that modern political economy has enunciated and is enforcing in spite of human laws to the contrary. But the inevitable is being enforced at a fearful cost to the people who have not recognized the true principles of trade and adapted their transactions to them. And the high industrial position which the United States holds at this time (1883) is in spite of restrictions, and not in consequence of them.

-No sooner had the first congress met than a measure for taxing imports was introduced by Mr. Madison (April 8, 1789) for the purpose of giving some resources to the almost empty treasury. The measure proposed was extremely simple in its character, being intended as a temporary expedient, and enumerated rum and other spirituous liquors, wines, teas, coffee, sugar, molasses and pepper, as subjects for specific duties, while ad valorem duties were to be levied upon all other articles. The first debate at once disclosed a difference of opinion as to whether or not the tariff should be made protective in its character, but it was not for some years after this that the constitutional power of the government to lay duties for protection was called in question. The difference of opinion we have just noted has continued until to-day, and must always continue so long as a tariff is imposed. Those who favored a protective tariff could however point to existing industries, and claim that they were infant industries, requiring a protection against foreign competition. But at once the conflict of interests appeared. Massachusetts wished a duty on rum in order to protect her producers, but objected to one on molasses. Pennsylvania asked for protection to her iron and steel industries, but the southern states, which were chiefly agricultural, were opposed to granting it. The duty on hemp was favored by the south but urged by the north, and so on through the list, hardly one item of which was not opposed on sectional grounds, that the benefits would accrue to certain states and at the cost of the other states. The bill was finally completed, and adopted as a protective measure, but it was so only in name. The preamble read:

Whereas it is necessary for the support of the government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid, etc.; and in the whole history of tariff legislation in this country it is the only law which was thus openly passed for protection to American industry. For prudential reasons this form of preamble was changed, and tariff enactments have on their face since been for the purposes of revenue only. This tariff became a law on July 4, 1789, and was to remain in force until June, 1796. The average duty levied under it was equivalent to an ad valorem rate of 8_ per cent.; and it was thought that this was too high a general scale of taxation, and would result in encouraging smuggling. As this act formed the foundation of our tariff system, we will give the duties imposed: distilled spirits, of Jamaica proof, 10 cents per gallon; other distilled spirits, 8 cents; molasses, 2_ cents; Madeira wine, 18 cents; other wines, 10 cents; beer, ale, and porter, in casks, 5 cents per gallon; in bottles, 20 cents per dozen; bottled cider, the same; malt, 10 cents per bushel; brown sugar, 1 cent per lb.; loaf sugar, 3 cents; other sugars, 2_ cents; coffee, 2_ cents, cocoa, 1 cent; teas from China and India, in American vessels, ranged from 6 to 20 cents per lb, and in foreign vessels some what higher; candles, from 2 to 6 cents per lb; cheese, 4 cents; soap, 2 cents; boots, per pair, 50 cents; shoes, from 7 to 10 cents, according to material; cables and tarred cordage, 75 cents per cwt.; untarred cordage, 90 cents; twine and pack thread, $2; unwrought steel, 50 cents per cwt.; nails and spikes, 1 cent per lb.; salt, 6 cents per bushel; manufactured tobacco, 6 cents per lb.; indigo, 16 cents per lb; wool and cotton cards, 50 cents per dozen; coal 2 cents per bushel; pickled fish, 75 cents per barrel; dried fish, 50 cents per quintal; playing cards, 10 cents per pack; hemp, 60 cents per cwt.; cotton, 3 cents per lb. In addition to these specific duties, an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent. was imposed on glass of all kinds (black quart bottles excepted), china, stone, and earthenware, gunpowder, paints, shoe and knee buckles, and gold and silver lace and leaf; 7_ per cent. ad valorem was charged upon blank books, paper, cabinet wares, leather, ready-made clothing, hats, gloves, millinery, canes, brushes, gold and silver and plated ware and jewelry, buttons, saddles, slit and rolled iron, and castings of iron, anchors, tin and pewter ware. Upon all other articles, including manufactures of wool, cotton and linen, 5 per cent. ad valorem was to be charged, except on saltpetre, tin, lead, old pewter, brass, iron and brass wire, copper in plates, wool, dyestuffs, hides and furs, to be free of duty. Such was the first tariff, and such was [859] the entering wedge of the protective system.

More information about Tariffs of the United States.

-Between the tariff of 1789 and that of 1816, which marks the second important step in the tariff legislation of the country, there were passed upward of seventeen acts affecting the rate of duties, and the tendency was ever toward higher rates. The most important event of this period was the preparation of Hamilton’s famous report upon manufactures, which contained the earliest formulation of protective principles that is to be met with in our legislative history, and still remains the source of protectionist argument. It would be impossible even to briefly summarize in this place this important contribution to tariff history, but the conditions under which it was written were, as I have already stated, peculiar, and many of his doctrines, if not indeed the whole basis of his reasoning, have been swept away by subsequent events. For the protection he advocated was justified chiefly by the fiscal restrictions of other nations.

The restrictive regulations, he says, which, in foreign markets, abridge the vent of the increasing surplus of our agricultural produce, serve to beget an earnest desire that a more extensive demand for the surplus may be created at home. * * If the system of perfect liberty to industry and commerce were the prevailing system of nations, the arguments which dissuade a country in the predicament of the United States from the zealous pursuit of manufactures, would doubtless have great force. * * But the system which has been mentioned is far from characterizing the general policy of nations. The prevalent one has been regulated by an opposite spirit. The consequence of it is, that the United States are, to a certain extent, in the situation of a country precluded from foreign commerce. They can indeed, without difficulty, obtain from abroad the manufactured supplies of which they are in want; but they experience numerous and very injurious impediments to emission and vent of their own commodities. Nor is this the case in reference to a single foreign nation only. The regulations of several countries with which we have the most extensive intercourse, throw serious obstacles in the way of the principal staples of the United States. In such a position of things the United States can not exchange with Europe on equal terms; and the want of reciprocity would render them the victim of a system which should induce them to confine their views to agriculture, and refrain from manufactures. A constant and increasing necessity, on their part, for the commodities of Europe, and only a partial and occasional demand for their own, in return, could not but expose them to a state of impoverishment, compared with the opulence to which their political and natural advantages authorize them to aspire.

A tariff was thus, in Hamilton’s view, an instrument of compensation and retaliation rather than a purely protective measure in the sense in which protection is viewed at the present day; and it is needless to add, that Hamilton’s view has little force now when the greater number of restrictions upon commerce that existed when he wrote have been removed. A like stand was taken by Jefferson in 1793, when he advocated countervailing foreign restrictions in case they could not be removed by negotiation.

-The wars in Europe tended at first toward a more liberal system of commerce, and the merchants of this country benefited largely by it. Some moderate increase in the rates of duties were from time to some granted, but no real demand for protection until the return of peace in 1801, when the old restrictive system was re-enacted by Europe. This peace was, however, of short duration, and on the resumption of hostilities the commerce of this country was so seriously involved as to create a demand for retaliation. In 1805 the importation of British manufactures was prohibited; a few years later the Berlin decrees of Napoleon and the orders in council of England practically closed the ports of Europe to neutral vessels, and American ship owners suffered greatly. As a measure of retaliation an embargo law was passed in 1807, which was followed by non-intercourse laws. The heroic remedy involved in these measures was equivalent to cutting off a leg to cure a corn, and, together with the commercial war which ensued, worked a revolution in American economy. Prevented from obtaining their usual supplies from Europe, our people began to manufacture on their own account, rendered sure of a market by the war, and also by a doubling in all tariff duties, which was done in 1812 as a war measure. But a return of peace threatened to do away with this artificial situation, in which many factors were combining to stimulate the beginnings of industry, and this the manufacturers clearly recognized. In February, 1816, Mr. Dallas, the secretary of the treasury, made a report to congress on the tariff, and the committee on commerce and manufactures laid before the house a report in which a protective policy was strongly urged. One month later Mr. Lowndes reported a bill from the committee of ways and means. Mr. Calhoun said in the course of debate that the capital formerly employed in commerce had by the war been turned into manufactures.

This, if things continue as they are, will be its direction. It will introduce a new era in our affairs, in many respects highly advantageous, and ought to be countenanced by the government. * * He then said, that war alone furnished sufficient stimulus, and perhaps too much, as it would make their growth unnaturally rapid; but that, on the return of peace, it would then be time for us to show our affection for them. But it will no doubt be said, if they are so far established, and if the situation of the country is so favorable to their growth, Where is the necessity of affording them protection? It is to put them beyond the reach of contingency. Besides, capital is not yet, and can not for some time be, adjusted to the new state of things. There is, in fact, from the operation of temporary causes, a great pressure on these establishments. They had extended so rapidly [860] during the late war, that many, he feared, were without the requisite surplus of capital or skill to meet the present crisis. Should such prove to be the fact, it would give a backset, and might, to a great extent, endanger their ultimate success. Should the present owners be ruined, and the workmen dispersed and turned to other pursuits, the country would sustain a great loss. Such would, no doubt, be the fact to a considerable extent, if not protected.

(Works, vol. II., p. 169.) This utterance is very significant as coming from a southern man. In fact, in this instance it was the south that favored, and the north that opposed, protection; and Webster always referred to the tariff of 1816 as a South Carolina measure. (Works, vol. III., pp. 297, 502.) Very little of the long debate that followed on the bill has been preserved; the measure passed the house by a vote of 88 to 54, and the senate by one of 25 to 7. It became a law April 27, 1816.

-This tariff not only marked the introduction of an entirely new principle, being intended as a protective tariff in fact as well as in name, but there was also a tendency to adopt, as far as possible, specific duties. There was also introduced what was called the minimum principle, which was in effect a specific duty. Thus, the duty upon cotton goods was 25 per cent., but all goods that cost less than twenty-five cents per yard were to be deemed to have cost twenty-five cents, on which the duty at 25 per cent. would amount to six and one-fourth cents, so that the minimum duty which could be paid on cottons was six and one-fourth cents per yard. Still, little was accomplished by the measure. It was intended to break the fall of the manufacturers, taking them gradually down stairs instead of throwing them out of the window. But the enormous importations even under the new rates of duties, while it filled the public treasury, produced a revulsion in the markets of a country already disturbed and impoverished by the effects of the war. A period of speculation was entered upon, and it was greatly aided and its results aggravated by the excessive issues of paper money.

The new tariff did not have the anticipated effect in aiding manufactures; on the other hand, by tempting larger investments in the hope of anticipated profits, it increased the competition, while it dilated the circle of manufacturing interests. The capital of New England went more decidedly into that branch of industry, so much so that the voice of New England began now to be decidedly on the side of protection. There is no doubt but that competition had much to do with the continued alleged distress of the manufacturers, a distress that was augmented by depressed markets and the debilitating effects of the war. The cry arose that more protection was needed, that British manufacturers were in league against American industry, and naturally ended in an organized movement for higher duties, in spite of the mass of evidence offered that they would, if granted, only produce more competition and a more complex but artificial condition of industry. The crisis of 1819 materially aided the protectionists, who may now be recognized as a party, and having an organ in Niles’ Weekly Register.

National interests and domestic manufactures were taken up as a war cry, and societies for the promotion of domestic industry were formed in many states. These from time to time held conventions, and formulated long addresses to the people, in which the hard times, the fiendishness of the British government and of British manufacturers, and the necessity of higher duties and more protection, were set forth in terms calculated to make the blood of every American boil.

More about Tariffs of the United States. in the Cyclopaedia

-This led up to an attempt in 1820 to pass a high tariff measure, and to do away with the credit system, which then applied to imports, and was the forerunner of the modern warehouse system. Auctions, by which it was claimed that the country was flooded with foreign goods to the detriment of domestic manufactures, were to be taxed, in order that the number and transactions might be diminished. Had the national finances permitted such a reduction in revenue from customs, the tariff measure would have prohibited the importation of iron, cottons and woolens, to such an extent had the protective sentiment grown among a very small but influential party. The main support, however, for any further modification in rates lay in the maintenance by foreign nations of their restrictions upon trade. The most important increase applied to cottons and woolens. That on woolens was in retaliation of the higher duties which England imposed upon wools, and which threatened to entirely exclude American wools from the English markets. France heavily taxed our cotton. A further grievance lay in the high duties imposed by European nations upon wheat, which was an important article of export. Discriminating duties on cotton brought from beyond the Cape of Good Hope were favored, because it was claimed those countries consumed none of our raw materials, afforded no market for our produce, employed none of our labor, and exhausted our specie. No act, however, was passed, and no change was made until 1824, when a general tariff measure became a law.

-The commercial and industrial condition had remained much depressed since the crisis of 1819, which had resulted from overtrading and reckless banking. According to Mr. Clay (speech, March, 1824), the general distress of the country was indicated by the diminished exports of native produce; by the depressed and reduced state of our foreign navigation; by our diminished commerce; by successive unthreshed crops of grain, perishing in our barns and barn yards for the want of a market; by the alarming diminution of the circulating medium; by the numerous bankruptcies, not limited to the trading classes, but extending to all orders of society, by a universal complaint of the want of employment, and a consequent reduction of the wages of labor; by the ravenous pursuit after public situations, not for the sake of their honors and the [861] performance of their public duties, but as a means of private subsistence; by the reluctant resort to the perilous use of paper money; by the intervention of legislation in the delicate relation between debtor and creditor; and, above all, by the low and depressed state of the value of almost every description of the whole mass of the property of the nation.

He therefore thought it a fitting time to introduce a genuine American policy, the object of which was to create a home market for the produce of American labor, and, it may be added, a policy that would directly afford relief to manufactures only. Mr. Webster made a most masterly speech in reply, in the course of which he questioned the universal distress of the country as depicted by Mr. Clay, while admitting the depression, and said, when we talk, therefore, of protecting industry, let us remember that the first measure for that end is to secure it in its earnings; to assure it that it shall receive its own. Before we invent new modes of raising prices, let us take care that existing prices are not rendered wholly unavailable by making them capable of being paid in depreciated paper.

As the presidential election was then depending, political matters were dragged into the debates, and now for the first time it was seriously questioned whether congress had the constitutional power to pass a measure purely for protection, and not as a revenue act. The debates in the house lasted more than ten weeks, and then the bill passed by only a majority of five votes, several of the members being brought into the hall on their sick couches in order that their votes might not be lost. In the senate it commanded a majority of four votes. It could not be regarded as a political measure, nor yet as a party question. Adams, Clay and Jackson, all voted for it; the southern states were dissatisfied with the result, as was also New England. But as iron, wool, hemp and sugar received protection, a combination of the western and middle states received sufficient support to pass the bill. The average rate of duties under the law of May 22, 1824, was 37 per cent.

-Those who supposed that the protectionists would be contented with their victory were much mistaken. No sooner was the tariff of 1824 gained, when an agitation for higher duties was begun, the general depression and the illiberal commercial policies of other nations being the main pretexts. A change, however, was taking place in England, which in a measure compelled the protectionists to seek new reasons for their movement. The trade between the United States and the West Indies had been the cause of much retaliatory legislation on the part of Great Britain and this country since 1815; but in spite of restrictions and prohibitions a profitable though illegal commerce was maintained by American merchants. The measures adopted by the English parliament had not only aroused our congress, but had given rise to threats of retaliation on the part of other European nations. Mr. Huskisson, then president of the English board of trade, was wise enough to recognize the necessity of a change in commercial policy, and inaugurated his system of reciprocity in 1823, which was carried into effect in the following year. This marks the first breach made in England’s protective system, and logically led up to the repeal of the corn laws and the abolition of all protective duties, so that at the very time that England was throwing open her ports and removing the restrictions that were imposed on her commerce, the United States was preparing to increase the tariff and raise higher the barriers which were intended to limit her foreign trade.

Author of this text: Worthington C. Ford.

Duties Tariff Elimination and Fees under NAFTA

Goods brought into Canada, Mexico and the United States are subject to customs duties and taxes. Each country has its own rate of duties. The amount of duties charged is based on the harmonized tariff system classification number of the good, value and origin.

Tariffs and the State Laws

Tariffs (Communications Legislation)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of tariffs. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Communications Legislation is provided. Finally, the subject of Federal Legislation in relation with tariffs is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Tariffs (Local Exchange Carriers)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of tariffs. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Local Exchange Carriers is provided. Finally, the subject of Telephone Services in relation with tariffs is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Tariffs (Long Distance Telephone Services)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of tariffs. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Long Distance Telephone Services is provided. Finally, the subject of Telephone Services in relation with tariffs is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Tariffs (Telecommunications Legislation)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of tariffs. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Telecommunications Legislation is provided. Finally, the subject of Federal Legislation in relation with tariffs is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Finding the law: Tariffs in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to tariffs, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines tariffs topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


Further Reading


Tariffs: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Tariffs. This part provides references, in relation to Tariffs, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Tariffs by content types:

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US Constitution
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Federal Case Law and Court Materials

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Presidential Materials

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Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Tariffs and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Tariffs or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Tariffs and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Tariffs. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Tariffs should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Tariffs when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

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