customs valuation

ICYMI: U.S. & Chinese Companies Fined $2.5 Million for Underpaying Customs Duties, Whistleblowers to Receive $500,000

Earlier this month, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas announced that a Dallas-based importer, two individuals, and two Chinese companies agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations that they failed to pay customs duties on imports.

Underpaying Through Duplicate Invoices

ADCO, a Dallas-based importer of industrial products, the company owner Raymond E. Davis, customs broker Calvin Chang, and Chinese companies Xiamen Atlantis MFC Co., Ltd. and Xiamen Taft Medical Co., Ltd conspired to underreport the value of goods they were importing.

The scheme involved falsifying invoices with low values for goods ADCO was importing from China. The company used a separate set of invoices that contained the correct value of goods to ensure that ADCO paid its suppliers the actual value of the goods.

In investigating the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise reviewed over 1,000 import entry lines.

Qui Tam Lawsuit

The settlement with the government resolved a “qui tam” lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act (FCA). A qui tam lawsuit is one that is brought by a private citizen or company against a defendant or defendants that owe money to the government.

When a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the party that initiated the case—called a “relator”—is entitled to a substantial monetary reward, ranging between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered for the government.  A qui tam lawsuit also engages the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in the case, and typically results in the opening of […]

Customs Valuation 101

Customs valuation is a procedure to determine the customs value of imported goods. The customs value is essential to calculate the total duty to be paid on an imported good and the United States currently maintains and enforces a rigorous valuation system.

Importers are Responsible for Valuations

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hold the importer of record (IOR) responsible for the accuracy of the declared value. Similar to paying taxes, the onus is on the IOR to know how much to pay, and the the IOR for reporting an incorrect value.

To put it into the words of CBP there’s a “shared responsibility” where the IOR is responsible to know and understand the applicable rules and regulations (and to review CBP’s “informed compliance” publications) and as a result value their imported goods properly. Valuation is part of an importer’s duty to exercise “reasonable care.”

Ensuring the value reported to CBP is accurate is important not just for CBP compliance but also for Census trade data. Valuation information submitted to CBP is utilized by the U.S. Census Bureau to compile trade statistics. Businesses and policymakers rely on this data to make critical business and trade policy decisions.

For more information on U.S. trade data, check out our Introduction to U.S. Trade Databases article.

Valuation Methods

In practice, 90%+ of imports use the transaction value valuation method. The transaction value is “the price actually paid or payable for imported merchandise when sold for exportation to the United States” and certain statutory or dutiable additions. The “price […]

By |2023-11-20T13:19:05-05:00November 20, 2023|Import|0 Comments

Customs Undervaluation- It’s a Crime

Customs Valuation is a procedure to determine the customs value of imported goods. The customs value is essential to calculate the total duty to be paid on an imported good. As part of its agreement with the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), the U.S. is part of an internationally standardized system of valuing imports. This standardized system allows for CBP to protect revenue, ensure reasonable care from importers, and accurately calculate Census trade statistics. Accordingly, it is critical to declare the value of importations accurately and compliantly. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) valuation methodology (as well as a summary of relevant Customs rulings) are described in detail in the Valuation Encyclopedia (i.e., the best resource on valuation inquiries). CBP permits merchandise to be valued according to one of the six valuation methods listed below. The methods are applied sequentially from first to last until an applicable value is determined. If the first method does not apply, the importer must then evaluate the second, and so on, until an appropriate method applies. The only exception to this sequential evaluation requirement is when evaluating between deductive value and computed value – an importer may choose to use the computed value before the deductive value.

Methods of Valuation:

  1. The transaction value of imported merchandise (the majority of imports use transaction value – i.e., the price paid or payable plus assists (see below))
  2. The transaction value of identical merchandise
  3. The transaction value of similar merchandise
  4. Deductive value
  5. Computed […]

Customs Valuation 101

What is Valuation and Why Does it Matter? Customs Valuation is a procedure to determine the customs value of imported goods. The customs value is essential to calculate the total duty to be paid on an imported good. Because there was a need for the international community to have a standardized system for valuing imports, many nations became signatories to a World Trade Organization (“WTO”) agreement that established valuation norms known as the Tokyo Round Valuation Code (later amended into the WTO Agreement on Implementation of Article VII of the GATT 1994).

The United States was a signatory to these treaties and currently maintains and enforces a rigorous valuation system. The U.S. Customs valuation methodology (as well as a summary of relevant Customs rulings) are described in detail in the Valuation Encyclopedia. A common customs valuation standard is important because it ensures that:

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