In a recent blog post, we noted that importers have been receiving invoices from CBP for payment of additional merchandising processing fees (MPF) for entries filed between October 1 and November 5, 2011 (due to an increase in MPF that was not assessed last year).
Now, there are reports that at least one port, Atlanta, has been sending these retroactive invoices with interest assessed up front (i.e., not assessed for payment after due date). This is inconsistent with the posting on US Customs’ MPF web page that “CBP will not assess interest on bill amounts for the increased MPF.”
Of course, CBP may assess interest on payments made after the due date of the retroactive invoices. But if importers have paid these bills in a timely manner, they can avoid the interest penalty.
Some Customs personnel have reported that there is a backlog in processing the payments, and as a result, interest may be inadvertently be assessed for timely payments. In these instances, contact your Customs Specialist to discuss. It’s likely that the matter will be resolved when the backlog is cleared and subsequent invoices issued.
To prevent confusion, we recommend that importers follow Customs’ advice for paying MPF: “[M]ultiple bills may be paid with one check, as long as a supplemental spreadsheet is provided, which lists each bill number and bill amount.” By providing this documentation, you can provide clear evidence of timely payment and avoid incorrect interest charges.