Marine Industry | SWBC Property Tax Services

Property Tax Services for the Marine Industry

Marine transportation operators often experience challenging operating conditions such as excess capacity, declining income streams and diminishing freight volumes. SWBC Ad Valorem Tax Advisors helps companies in the marine transportation sector navigate these changes and the impact on their complex industrial property taxes.

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Complex PropertyTax Expertise

Due to fluctuating market conditions, the U.S. marine transportation industry has experienced long term excess capacity; yielding diminished revenue streams in both dry and tank barge sectors and an overall negative 5.3% annual growth rate.

We apply our specialized knowledge of the marine industry to successfully help our clients identify and appeal over-valuation of their marine transportation assets.


In the marine transportation industry, incentives and exemptions are essential to effectively managing and reducing industrial complex property tax liability. Specialized industry expertise is required to know where to look and how to build the appropriate business case.

Types of Complex Industrial Property Tax Incentives & Exemptions

Many marine industry taxpayers fail to take advantage of available property tax incentives on fixed assets.

The single most overlooked savings opportunity is pollution-control exemptions on spill containment and vapor control equipment.

Identify Incentive & Exemption Opportunities

We work with our clients to identify and quantify their exemption eligibility, including securing the proper documentation to support and secure available benefits, as well as negotiate and file their annual certification reports with the appropriate state authorities and taxing jurisdictions.

A key component of our industrial complex property tax analysis is our comprehensive abnormal (functional and economic) obsolescence audit. Unlike some of the large tax consulting firms that apply a template approach across industries, we examine each client’s property tax valuation within the context of their unique industry.

Where to Look for Complex Property Tax Obsolescence

We begin our complex property tax obsolescence audits by evaluating a comprehensive set of abnormal obsolescence indicators, including but not limited to:

Functional Obsolescence (Internal)

  • Excess Capital Cost (Current Replacement vs. Indexed Reproduction Cost)
  • Excess Operating Cost compared to current “state of the art”

Economic Obsolescence (External)

  • Plant Utilization Metrics
  • Declining Cargo Volume
  • Diminishing Revenue
  • Reduced Headcount
  • Lower Return on Capital

Economic obsolescence is an important area of focus as it is often overlooked by tax assessors and presents an excellent opportunity to identify, quantify, and appeal your asset valuation(s).

Abnormal Obsolescence and its Impact to Industrial Property Tax Savings

Examples of abnormal (economic) obsolescence includes the declining revenue on U.S. inland barge fleet due to excess capacity in the market and functional obsolescence associated with the cost of federally mandated double hull cost.

A key component of our industrial complex property tax analysis is our focus on reporting.

Developing an Accurate Assessment

Accurate and timely reporting of inventory and fixed assets is the first step in assuring an accurate assessment.

Unlike generalist property tax consultants, we take the time and effort to review each and every line item on the fixed asset ledger to determine taxability, taxable situs, asset class, and economic life to reflect the correct basis for calculating market value. An internal reporting error of a misclassification of assets--which is often a routine task--can yield tens or hundreds of thousands in savings.

In the marine industry, valuation is an essential step in our comprehensive, industrial complex property tax analysis. The key to a successful property tax assessment appeal is to incorporate a documented quantification of abnormal obsolescence via a comprehensive valuation analysis, presented in a format that tax assessors relate to.

Valuation Errors When Calculating Complex Industrial Property Taxes

The challenge for marine industry companies is that tax assessors determine market value for complex industrial capital assets through the application of a prescribed “percent good” physical depreciation schedule to original cost that has been trended up to an inflation-adjusted reproduction cost.

Unfortunately, the application of these standard depreciation schedule and inflation factors do not capture market-supported abnormal depreciation, and often overstate market value.

Abnormal Depreciation

Abnormal depreciation, in the form of functional or economic obsolescence, can be determined through the application of several universally accepted appraisal techniques:

  • Replacement vs. Reproduction Cost
  • Actual vs. Designed Asset Utilization
  • Quantification of Excess Operating Costs as Compared to “State of the Art”
  • Income Shortfall Analysis
  • Cost-to-Cure Analysis

Valuation Opportunities

Additionally, in the marine industry, the market value of industrial complex capital assets can be supported through multiple sales and asking prices of comparable assets, which, depending on the circumstances, may be scrap or salvage value.

We provide a comprehensive, no-risk property tax savings analysis up front and in writing before our clients engage with us. Let our team assess your property taxes and find out if you can save money on your business' property taxes.


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Are you a current SWBC AD VALOREM TAX ADVISORS client that needs help? This form is for new business inquiries only. For existing client support call 210.376.2303 or click here.

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