Making an offer in compromise to settle a CBP cash seizure case is another option on the “election of proceedings form” included in the CAFRA notice of seizure. The offer in compromise must be written, include payment in settlement of the claim, and expressly state they are made under 19 USC 1617. The law governing an offer in compromise actually says that a customs officer or attorney must present a report showing the facts supporting the claim of forfeiture and the probability of recovery and the amount of money being offered (“terms of compromise”), a claim may be compromised. 19 USC 1617.
What is an offer in compromise?
An “offer in compromise” is a request that the Government agree to keep less than the full value of property in exchange for avoiding the expenses of defending a challenge to the forfeiture (either administratively or in court) and the risks that the challenge will be successful.” ((United States v. Martin, 460 F.Supp.2d 669 (D.Md. 2006))). It is, in essence, a settlement of the cash seizure case.
The offer in compromise is most appropriate in the compromise of a doubtful case rather than remission of a forfeiture. This is supported by attorney general opinions and case law.
Is an offer in compromise a faster way to get seized cash back from Customs?
No. The notice of seizure from CBP states that choosing the option may delay your case (presumably they mean slower than an administrative petition for remission of seized currency). This is because Customs must conduct an investigation to determine its chance of success at trial or administratively and create its own report.