Rules for Prior Disclosures and Customs Audits: Offsets and Sampling

U.S. Customs and Border Protection published on Oct. 25, 2011 a final rule in the Federal Register amending the agency’s regulations to add provisions for the use of statistical sampling and offsetting overpayments and underpayments of duty, fees and taxes under certain conditions. It also allows importers to use the same techniques in their internal company customs-related operations.

Statistical sampling, a method already in practice but not explicitly provided for in CBP regulations, is an important tool available to both the public andCBP auditors for examining customs entries. This method allows evaluation results of a selected reduced number of items to be applied to the entire universe of records, permitting conclusions to be drawn about the universe with a high degree of accuracy. The use of statistical sampling techniques is a practice recognized in both government and industry.

When statistical sampling is properly applied, it produces greater efficiency in review processes, reducing cost, and allowing CBP and importers to best use resources to evaluate import operations.

The revisions also define procedures for offsetting (netting) overpayments against underpayments on certain customs entries when identified during CBPaudits. However, CBP will consider allowing offset circumstances when discovered during the preparation of importer disclosures which meet the requirements of the prior disclosure regulations (19 USC 162.74).