Income Tax Exemptions For Merchant Mariners  

        Over the last 50 years US Merchant Marine ships have declined at an alarming rate. In 1951, there were over 1,200 privately owned US Merchant Marine commercial ships sailing the oceans. However, today there are hardly 101 US owned ships that are engaged in foreign trade.

       In addition, it has been reported that the number of licensed and unlicensed US merchant mariners have also declined quite drastically. This has led to nearly 95 percent of all the commercial cargo leaving and entering the US being brought in by foreign flag vessels manned by foreign crew.

      The reason behind the decline in number of US merchant mariners and US-flagged ship is very simple. It is because of the federal tax structure and various other regulatory requirements. The US crew of US merchant marine ships have to pay high taxes while foreign merchant mariners pay little or no taxes. This led to a change in the tax structure which also affects US merchant mariners.

       Now there are income tax exemptions for merchant mariners. As per federal law, US citizens working overseas are exempt from paying income tax on the first $80,000 they earn as income. Earlier this was not the case as the income tax exemption did not encompass the merchant mariners. This is gradually leading to an increase in employment opportunities for American mariners, ensuring that there are sufficient qualified mariners to man vessels. In addition, merchant mariners can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.

       The US was forced to introduce income tax exemptions for merchant mariners after it was pointed out that the civilian seagoing labor based was critical to US defense policy.

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