Nearly 50 companies representing over 160 well-known footwear brands and retailers are urging Congress to pass the Affordable Footwear Act, which would end the shoe tax on lower to moderately-priced footwear and all children's shoes.

Concerned about the slowing economy and the credit crunch that is sharply curtailing consumer spending, the footwear industry sent a letter last week asking for the Act to be included in a larger economic stimulus package Congree is expected to consider in a November lame duck session.

The Affordable Footwear Act (HR 3934/ S 2372) eliminates a hidden but costly import tariff that can add as much as 30% or more to the retail price of a pair of shoes. 

Established at the start of the Great Depression, the shoe tax was meant to protect domestic manufacturers from cheaper imports. But it still remains, even though 99% of all shoes sold in America are imported. 

In its letter, the footwear industry and its retailers said: "The Affordable Footwear Act is the perfect opportunity to provide a real, tangible tax cut that would immediately stimulate the economy and provide a benefit to main street Americans."

Companies who have put their names to the letter include Adidas, Asics, Clarks, Columbia, New Balance, Nike, Nine West, Puma, Reebok, Rockport, Shoe Carnival, Stride Rite, Timberland, Wal-Mart Stores, and Wolverine.