How do “assists” figure into the calculation of customs valuation?

In a recent posting, George R. Tuttle, III, Esq. thoroughly outlines the many issues that come into play in determining whether and how “assists” outside of the US affect the determination of the correct value of goods imported into the US.

blueprintThe posting focuses on one particularly vexing component of the statutory definition  of “assist” — “[e]ngineering, development, artwork, design work, and plans and sketches undertaken elsewhere than in the US and are necessary for the production of imported merchandise.”  (19 USC § 1401a(h)(1)(A)(iv)).

Mr. Tuttle cites to US Customs Rulings on a broad range of relevant concerns, such as payments for expatriate services, quality control services, and testing services, and whether such services are “necessary” for production of the goods in question.   Often, the analysis of whether an assist occurred is quite nuanced, and involves painstaking evaluation that can include, for example, employee interviews about the precise steps taken in the manufacturing process, or the particular context of specifically who performs testing on manufactured goods.  In the end, as Mr. Tuttle notes, the determination is often a “judgment call.”

Additional guidance on assists can be found in US Customs’ July 2006 Informed Compliance publication, “What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About:  Customs Value.” 


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