An article Wednesday incorrectly reported the amount the Interior Department expects to raise by increasing entrance fees at national parks. The correct figure is $25 million.
If President Reagan gets his way, businessmen, commodity traders, home buyers, air travelers and many summer vacationers will have to pay the government when they buy, sell, trade, fly or play.
That's because Reagan's 1983 budget proposes sharp increases in many existing user fees and creates a number of new ones. The proposals range from a new charge of $285 to secure a Veterans Administration home loan guarantee to a $235 increase in the current $65 fee for registering a patent. It will cost $100, not $25, to get an immigration visa and the passport fee will double from $15 to $30.
Congress must approve most of the proposals, although the administration can act on a few by itself. If all go through, the federal government will get $2.5 billion in user fee revenues in fiscal 1983. The revenues would jump to $3.5 billion in fiscal 1984 and then to $3.7 billion in fiscal 1985.
User fees are based on the concept that when the federal government provides a service, those receiving the service should pay for it.
Those using electricity generated by nuclear power would be assessed a 2 percent tax on their electric bills. Utilities would pass the revenue on to the federal government to pay for developing nuclear waste disposal sites. If Congress approves, the fee will raise $300 million in FY 1983 alone.
Almost half of the proposed user fee revenue would come from taxes on aircraft fuel, airline tickets and air freight. The money would be used for capital expenditures at airports and to pay for developing a new air traffic control computer system.
The passenger ticket tax would go from 5 percent to 8 percent; the per-gallon tax on aviation gasoline would go from 4 cents to 12 cents, and jet fuel for business planes would be taxed for the first time at 14 cents a gallon in FY 1983, then hiked to 22 cents a gallon by 1987. Further, a 5 percent freight tax would be reinstated. The package would raise $1.187 billion in 1983 alone. Last year, the aviation lobby beat a similar package.
Now, the vacation tax. The Interior Department will ask Congress to double the $3 ceiling on entrance fees to National Parks and triple the $10 cost of a Golden Eagle passport, which admits you to any national parkland for a year. Interior Secretary James G. Watt said he hopes the new fees will raise $191 million in fiscal 1983 to help improve the parks.
The Agriculture Department will ask Congress to allow camping fees in National Forests where they are banned. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority are also expected to impose admission fees at recreation sites.
The recreation fees would pay 10 percent, instead of 4 percent, of the $1.1 billion budget for operating the natural areas.
Some other proposed user fees requiring congressional approval:
The Coast Guard, to defray costs for navigation aids and search and rescue patrols, wants to charge annual fees to owners of recreational boats and other vessels from fishing boats to tugs. Most inland recreational boaters would be hit with a $4 to $15 fee, but owners of larger vessels and those using coastal areas would pay from $50 to $600. Domestic fishermen would pay from $1,350 to $40,000; tow-boat operators from $2,000 to $10,000 and barge operators from $800 to $1,600. Recreational boat fees have failed to pass Congress in the past.
* The Commerce Department will seek to charge an average of $9 (instead of $2) for aeronautical maps and an average of $37 (instead of $5) for nautical charts. The higher fees would raise about 60 percent of production costs.
* The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will seek a 25 cents per contract fee that would generate $22 million.
* Commercial vessel operators would have to pay for constructing and maintaining new locks, dams and channels. The fees would raise $448 million. Deep-water port users would be asked to reimburse the government for dredging costs.
* The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would seek to raise about $35 million annually in fees from those seeking approval for hydroelectic plants, certification for stripper wells and rate changes for electric power, natural gas, and oil and gas pipeline transmission.
* The Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) will ask permission to charge an average of $1,000 instead of a flat $500 to back packages of home mortgage loans. It also wants to charge each mortgage issuer a $250 fee the first time it does business with Ginnie Mae.
Conversely, the Agriculture and Interior departments have already moved to cut livestock grazing fees charged on national grasslands, in national forests and on Bureau of Land Management property.