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Importers of Alcoholic Beverages Encouraged to File Protests to Secure Tax Relief

Friday, June 29, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Under the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, reduced tax rates and/or tax credits are applicable to limited quantities of distilled spirits, beer, or wine imported from qualifying foreign producers. However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has previously counseled importers to continue paying the full excise tax rate on subject goods at the time of entry summary filing while it works with the Treasury Department to develop regulations implementing the CBMA import provisions.

In a June 27 administrative message CBP states that the forthcoming regulations may allow the issuance of refunds of excise taxes on subject goods paid since the Jan. 1 effective date of the CBMA. CBP therefore suggests that importers file protests on liquidated entries for which a CBMA reduced tax rate or credit may be due. Such protests should, at a minimum, include an Excel spreadsheet with information including entry number(s), line number(s) and the following information by line number: producer, alcohol type (beer, wine, cider, or distilled spirits), tax rate or credit assigned and requested, and quantity claimed for tax rate or credit. Refund requests will be processed no earlier than Jan. 15, 2019.

CBP notes that post-summary corrections must not to be utilized for requesting refunds until 19 CFR 24.36 has been updated and the necessary programming has been completed. CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise will reject any PSCs pursuant to CBMA claims pending this regulatory change.

Once the regulations are amended and CBP begins accepting CBMA refund requests, importers will need to identify entry summary lines that they believe qualify for excise tax relief under the CBMA. This identification will serve as the importer’s request for relief. CBP plans to develop a flag at the entry summary line level in the Automated Commercial Environment that importers may utilize to request a refund. Further instructions will be published once CBP is capable of accepting refund requests.

CBP states that for the importer to substantiate its eligibility to receive reduced tax rates or tax credits under the CBMA and meet its reasonable care obligations its internal records should, at a minimum, include the following.

- foreign producer’s name, manufacturing facility address, and FSMA registration number

- number of barrels of beer, number of gallons of wine, and number of proof gallons of distilled spirits eligible for each reduced rate/tax credit assigned to the importer for the calendar year by the representative of the foreign producer authorized to assign its allotment, along with documentation showing that quantity as assigned to that specific importer

- contact information for such authorized representative

- statement from the authorized representative that the number of barrels or wine/proof gallons assigned by the foreign producer to all importers for the calendar year does not exceed the quantities allowed by law or the foreign producer’s capacity

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