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Strengthening Checks and Balances

Revenue Issues at CBP Potentially Cost Taxpayers Billions

On May 10, 2016, the Project On Government Oversight sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) raising concerns about issues at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that have potentially cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Sources have exposed instances where CBP was either unable or unwilling to collect appropriate duties, penalties, and interest from non-compliant importers. Documents reveal that, between 2008 and 2013, duty evasion from watch importers cost the federal government tens of millions of dollars per year. This trend of duty avoidance by undervaluing imports is seen in various industries, from textiles to computer parts, and is likely costing taxpayers hundreds of millions per year. Additionally, CBP employees are facing resistance in assessing appropriate duties, penalties, and interest on large, influential importers, resulting in further losses of revenue lawfully owed to the federal government.

Senator Grassley and the Government Accountability Office have been pushing CBP to revamp its revenue collections infrastructure for almost a decade, but it seems that not enough has been done. CBP’s current struggles in maintaining an appropriate workforce and the U.S.’s ever-growing need for revenue further demonstrate that it is time for a thorough audit of CBP’s revenue collection practices.