By: Crane Worldwide team
May 6, 2019
A Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is land area within the U.S. that is legally considered outside of national customs territory. These zones are governed by a federal program that streamlines, reduces and sometimes eliminates import tariffs for U.S. importers and exporters. The program was enacted in 1934 to “expedite and encourage foreign commerce.” Today there are 294 FTZs in the United States.
There are a few big winners when it comes to FTZ:
The Federal FTZ program was created to support U.S. manufacturing and to keep jobs on American soil.
The primary benefits come in the form of import duty and tariff savings. Some of the biggest companies in the world utilize the program, such as GM, ExxonMobil, Merck, Intel, Dell, GE and BMW.
The FTZ program offers a variety of benefits that streamline, reduce or eliminate import duties for U.S. importers. Once a company has gained FTZ authorization, import duty benefits begin depending on specific actions:
In addition to import duty benefits, goods stored in an FTZ site may be subject to reduced inventory taxes in certain circumstances.
In most states, the so-called Business Personal Property Tax, or inventory tax, is charged by local tax entities, such as the county, local municipality and local school district. The exact inventory tax discount at an FTZ site varies. Each taxing entity provides separate discounts that vary between 0 to 100 percent of the normal rate. These rates are typically based on deals done upon original site formation. Most FTZ sites benefit from at least one inventory tax discount. A few sites over a 100 percent inventory tax discount. Only a handful of these “grandfathered” sites are still available for development in Harris County.
When a FTZ site is established, the local taxing entities must approve the site before its FTZ board activation.
Some taxing entities have standard FTZ tax deals offered uniformly to all new FTZ sites, for example, 60 percent of the normal rate (a 40 percent discount) or 100 percent of the normal rate (no discount).