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Savings Strategies: Duty Refunds

Friday, May 15, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

There are a number of duty savings strategies companies can use to conserve cash, lower customs duties and tariffs, and seek refunds. These strategies are always a high priority for businesses involved in international trade, but particularly so during this difficult period.

This is the third in ST&R’s series of articles examining these strategies in more detail and covers duty refunds. Previous articles addressed the first sale rule and transfer pricing.

Section 301 Tariff Refunds

Companies importing goods from China may be eligible and can apply for retroactive refunds of Section 301 duties, but time is running short and the process is proving to be complicated and burdensome.

Exclusions from these tariffs provide companies with an opportunity to claim refunds on specified products. The catch is that your imported product must be covered by both the approved tariff classification number and the specific product description of the exclusion. In essence, companies must classify products twice to identify refund opportunities.

Once an opportunity is identified, companies must file and track refund requests from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The refund process imposes strict requirements, and deadlines are confusing. Should a request be denied, further administrative or court action may be required.

To help importers who may not have the bandwidth or know-how to engage in this process, ST&R has established an efficient program to review product and import data, identify all existing or potential exclusions that may be applied to the company’s products, and, when warranted, file and track refund requests. This program is specially designed to alleviate significant time intrusions on already-burdened import staff while maximizing potential duty recovery. Because the additional duty rates range from 10 to 25 percent, the refunds can be significant.

Companies requiring expert assistance in identifying and securing these refunds should contact customs attorneys Marilyn-Joy Cerny or Robert Grasing

Other Duty and Tariff Refunds

ST&R also offers a duty refund program that can help you lower your tariff burden and obtain refunds of past overpayments.

Utilizing its decades of domain expertise in tariff classification, ST&R conducts a strategic review of your import data (using sources such as a SKU-level entry report or classification database) to identify products that may be legitimately reclassified at lower duty rates.

With your approval, we then file claims with CBP to reclassify the goods and recover refunds of higher duties paid on past entries. We actively track and advocate for these claims as necessary, and our success rate in recovering refunds is very high because our claims always have a sound basis in the tariff schedule, CBP rulings, or court cases.

If the claims are approved, we share in the refunds. We then work with your staff to ensure that the reclassifications are applied to your future entries, and you keep 100 percent of future savings.

Those interested in taking advantage of this duty refund program should contact customs attorney Marilyn-Joy Cerny.

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