On April 19, the Trump administration announced a 90-day extension on the payment of certain dues for importers who have suffered “significant financial hardship” due to the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement is in the form of an executive order and comes after weeks of discussion within the administration from ongoing pressure from import-reliant business groups.
The exemption applies to certain estimated duties, taxes and fees that importers would ordinarily be obligated to pay as of the date of entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption, for merchandise entered in March or April 2020, for a period of 90 days from the date that the deposit would otherwise have been due but for this emergency action. No interest will apply during the postponement. However, the temporary postponement does not permit return of any deposits of estimated duties, taxes and/or fees that have been paid.
Even if a company qualifies, the relief does not apply across the board. The 90-day exemption will not apply to the following duties:
- Anti-dumping and countervailing duties
- Section 232 national security duties on steel and aluminum
- Section 301 duties placed on Chinese products over the last two years
- Section 201 duties placed on washing machines and solar energy products
What Are the Qualification Requirements?
To qualify, importers must demonstrate “a significant financial hardship.” An eligible importer’s operation must be fully or partially suspended during March or April 2020 due to orders from a governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings because of COVID-19, and as a result of such suspension, the importer’s gross receipts for March 13-31, 2020 or April 2020 are less than 60% of the gross receipts for the comparable period in 2019.
An eligible importer does not need to file additional documentation with the U.S. Customs & Border Protection to be eligible for this relief but must maintain documentation as part of its books and records establishing that it meets the requirements for relief.
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