Customs Penalty Assessment and Mitigation Procedures:

Changes Would Help Both the Government and Importers

GGD-78-5: Published: Mar 13, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1978.

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In recent years, U.S. importers have alleged that penalties for violating import laws and regulations are inequitable and do not provide for adequate judicial review. An examination of penalty assessment and mitigation procedures in five U.S. Customs Service districts showed that the laws, regulations, and procedures for handling import violations have not been in the best interest of the government or the importers.

The Customs Service's penalty assessment and mitigation procedures contain four major problem areas: the initial penalty required by law is often unfair, judicial review of violations has been limited to considering whether a violation occurred, Customs does not uniformly apply the mitigation process, and Customs takes considerable time to process penalty cases which slows receipt of revenue by the government. In fiscal year 1975, the government collected penalties of about $15.6 million. With timely processing of penalty cases, it could have received the revenues more promptly.

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