Back To School Season Highlights High Cost of Import Taxes

Import taxes will inflate the cost of most of the goods students around the country need as they head back to school. Tariffs on back-to-school goods like shoes and clothing are especially high, averaging 14.1 percent in 2021. 

The Biden administration says its trade policy is continuing to “deliver wins for everyday Americans.” In reality, its trade policies have done nothing to help working families avoid price hikes caused by tariffs. Under President Biden, the average U.S. tariff rate is twice as high as it was under President Obama and even higher than under President Trump.

Figure 1: Average tariff rate for many back-to-school items (2021)

Note: Tariff rates are based on 2021 customs value and calculated duties data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Actual rates may vary based on the tariff classification for each good. Underlying data may be found here. Image by John Babcock Illustration and Design.