Import Duties and Taxes:

Improved Collection, Accounting, and Cash Management Needed

FGMSD-78-50: Published: Aug 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1978.

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The U.S. Customs Service collected over $6 billion in duties, taxes, and fees on imported merchandise during fiscal year (FY) 1977, and revenues are projected to increase to $7 billion by the end of 1980.

During FY 1976, delays in collections allowed by Customs procedures cost the government an estimated $9.6 million in interest costs. The government is entitled to duty payments when goods are released to importers. However, Customs allowed importers to defer payments an average of 12.4 days, and proposed changes may delay collections up to 30 days. The government could have reduced its interest costs by up to $7.3 million if it had collected, when due, the $3.3 billion in FY 1976 collections deferred. Also, about $563 million in importers' alcohol taxes was deferred in FY 1976 which could have reduced interest costs by an estimated $2.3 million if collected on time. Other delays in collections have resulted from lengthy reviews by Customs of documentation for imported items, slow collections of amounts due from importers, and incorrect or late bills and receivable reports.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should consider developing methods to reduce collection delays including requiring importers to pay duties when goods are released or be charged interest on late payments. The Secretary should also review the policy allowing alcohol tax deferrals for an average of 23 days and, if deferrals are allowed to continue, consider levying interest charges on importers who elect to defer taxes. Customs should reduce processing delays, improve controls over bonds, verify that bond coverage is adequate on all transactions, improve billing and collection procedures, and levy interest charges on overdue bills.

    Agency Affected:


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