A tariff is a tax levied by governments on the value including freight and insurance of imported products. Different tariffs are applied on different products by different countries. The average duty worldwide is about 5 percent. National sales and local taxes, and in some instances customs fees, will often be charged in addition to the tariff. Within the context of a true voluntary political society, imposts and duties might be justified but only when those taxes are strictly used to raise revenues and not to protect specific agendas. To be uniform and equitable, however, tariffs must be levied on all parties, not just a chosen few; but levying an import tax will not avoid the protectionism argument if foreign markets offer competing products. State governments are forbidden to levy tariffs on imports, discriminate against outside residents, or tax other states’ products. Tariff barriers are duties imposed on goods which effectively create an obstacle to trade, although this is not necessarily the purpose of putting tariffs in place. Tariff barriers are also sometimes known as import restraints, because they limit the amount of goods which can be imported into a country. The effect of tariffs and trade barriers on businesses, consumers and the government shifts over time. In the short run, higher prices for goods can reduce consumption by individual consumers and by businesses. During this time period, businesses will profit and the government will see an increase in revenue from duties. In the long term, businesses may see a decline in efficiency due to a lack of competition, and may also see a reduction in profits due to the emergence of substitutes for their products. For the government, the long-term effect of subsidies is an increase in the demand for public services, since increased prices, especially in foodstuffs, leave less disposable income. Tariffs would not be a sensible way to raise revenue, for starters because it is currently unconstitutional and secondly because it would greatly interfere with intrastate trade within the United States.
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