The Federal Courts' Guide to the Taxation of Costs

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts has a guide on its site, Taxation of Costs: Procedures for Filing the Bill of Costs, which is kind of a FAQ page for parties seeking to recover costs under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d). Here are some key points:


  1. A Bill of Costs must be filed with the Clerk, and be accompanied by an affidavit, within 15 days after deadline for an appeal.

  2. Costs can be taxed in settled cases in which one party has been designated as the prevailing party.

  3. Clerk fees; marshall fees; and witness fees are taxable. The witness must be a party to the case. The witness is billed at $40 per day, but his or her travel expenses can also be taxed. A $238 subsistence fee can be charged for courts in the Boston area.

  4. Deposition and trial transcripts can be taxed, but parties will not be able to tax video recordings of depositions or expedited transvripts without prior permission from the court.

  5. Exemplification of certified copies of official records can be taxed.

  6. Copies of trial exhibits, briefs, transcripts, record excerpts, and other documents can be taxed at a rate "generally charged for reproduction in the local area".

  7. Demonstratives used in court can also be taxed.

  8. The guide gives fixed rates for interpretation services that can be taxed.

  9. The cost of expert witnesses appointed by the court can be taxed.

  10. Fees incurred in an action in state court, before its removal to federal court can be taxed so long as state law allows for the services to be taxed.

  11. A motion must be filed to recover attorney or special master fees.