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Shoes are a requirement, particularly for working parents with kids who seem to grow out of them on a weekly basis. Yet, import tariffs are boosting the prices of nearly all United States sneakers, cutting to the fixed budgets of people who can afford it the least.

Look at taxes on materials

The so-called "shoe tax" is levied at the U.S. border on imported shoes. Though the tax rates vary greatly, they are higher on sneakers made of low-end materials, like those found in bargain outlets, such as Payless Shoe Source and Walmart. The tax rate on high-end leather shoes is a mere 8 percent. Sneakers made of canvas, or those with rubber soles, are taxed anywhere from 48 percent to 67.5 percent.

According to Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell:



"It is kind of a hidden tax, and getting rid of it would be nice to do."


Cheaper sneakers

The Affordable Footwear Act is something Cantwell and other politicians are focusing on to do that.

According to advocates of the act, if passed, it will nix an annual $800 million from the cumulative cost of children's and low-end shoes when they enter the States. Consequently, consumers will see a reduction in the cost of the shoes at retailers.

Some against brand new act

A lot of people think that the quality of footwear will decrease if there are no tariffs on the footwear. Domestic shoemakers are completely against it. Matthew LeBretton is the Boston athletic footwear director of public affairs. He said:



"On paper, outsourcing overseas would cost less and increase profits, but the quality would be questionable. We are quality conscious and this is core to our existence."


Others claim that the taxes are keeping domestic shoe manufacturers in the country and are safeguarding jobs.

However, nearly 99 percent of all sneakers sold in the United States today are imports.

Used to be essential

The tax started in the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, and was designed to protect the American shoe industry, a serious economic player during the Good Depression. Today, it is seen by many as a dinosaur that has worn out its welcome.

As a by-product of election-year campaigning, however, Washington lawmakers are not anticipated to act on the issue until after the election in November.