Protest for Refund of Section 301 China Tariffs

Importers can protest for a refund of Section 301 China tariffs. Section 301 duties are imposed against certain goods that originate from China when imported to the United States. The duties range from 10% to 25% depending on the product and how it is classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

Why can a duty refund protest be made?

A duty refund protest can be made when an exclusion applies. Even though the additional tariffs broadly apply to all goods from China, there are (as of March 28, 2022) exceptions (linked here) so that not all products were subject to the additional duties. These exceptions are termed “exclusions” (i.e., exclusion from the Section 301 China tariffs that otherwise would apply).

When available, importers can apply the exclusions retroactively, meaning that if they imported a product and paid the 10% to 25% extra duty, they can still may have an opportunity to get those duties refunded back to them.

Section 301 Exclusions (March 25, 2022 Update)

The U.S. Trade Representative has announced 352 reinstated product exclusions that are valid for entries liquidated from October 12, 2021 and will continue to be excluded through December 31, 2022. The reinstated exclusions are available for any product that meets the description in the
product exclusion set out in the digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings and product descriptions in the Annex to the Federal Register notice available at this link (see pages 3 through 26).

What are the ways Section 301 duties/tariffs can be refunded?

The refund of Section 301 China duties are available for excluded products if the entries are not liquidated, or liquidation has occurred within 180 days of liquidation. Liquidation is basically the finalization of the entry for customs purposes, and typically occurs 310 days after entry (i.e., about 310 days after the date of import, in most cases). The refunds can be available through a post summary correction or a protest.

Post Summary Corrections for Unliquidated Entries

If the entries are not liquidated, you need your broker (or any willing licensed customs broker) to file a “post summary correction” (PSC). This is when the broker basically “amends” or re-submits corrected paperwork to Customs before the entry is liquidated. A post summary correction can be done up to 300 days after the date of entry, or 15 days before the entry is schedule to liquidate, unless the entry is already under CBP’s review or some other exceptions apply. Read more about that here.

But if a post summary correction is not possible because you are too late (or your broker is too busy), you can still get a refund by filing a protest against the entry to take advantage of the Section 301 exclusion to get that duty refunded.

Protests for Section 301 Refunds for Liquidated Entries

Protests for Section 301 refunds will be the way most importers can get refunds for the China tariffs. If the entry is liquidated, an importer can get duties refund by filing a protest. A protest must be filed within 180 days of liquidation of the entry. So generally, that means you can protest entries that were made within the last 494 days (314 liquidation days + 180 days after liquidation = 494 days, or roughly 16.5 months). You can ever go back longer if you entry has not liquidated by some fluke, or because you requested a suspension of liquidation.

A protest must be filed explaining the applicability of the exclusion to the product that was imported, with enough data to clearly demonstrate to CBP that the goods did qualify for an exclusion.

We File Protests for Section 301 Duty Refunds

If you need to file protests to get refunds of Section 301 duties, Great Lakes Customs Law can help. We’ve filed protests thousands of entries over the years, and have been successful in getting our clients refunds for Section 301 duties through protest exclusions. We are happy to discuss your needs, the level of organization required to successfully obtain refunds, and provide some transparent pricing for our services. Please contact us to speak to Jason Wapiennik, customs attorney.