Inbound transfers of tangible property within a multinational corporation also give rise to Customs issues. The valuation of imports into the United States is generally based on "transaction value," or the price "actually paid or payable" for the merchandise. U.S. Customs can disallow the use of transaction value for valuation purposes when the two parties to the transaction are related to each other and it can be shown that this relationship has affected the price. Indications are that the U.S. Customs Service is increasing its scrutiny of the pricing of merchandise imported into the United States by related parties.

There are several tests that can be used to show that the price paid by the related party has not been affected by its relationship with its supplier. The tests, in effect, demonstrate that the price is consistent with what an unrelated buyer would pay for the merchandise at issue. ECS can assist companies whose intercompany pricing is being questioned, whether formally or informally, by Customs. ECS can also assist in developing internal company documentation of related party pricing so that a company is prepared in the event of a Customs inquiry. Because of its expertise in transfer pricing, ECS can work with clients to ensure consistent documentation for purposes of both the IRS and Customs.

ECS also advises clients on Customs classification issues and preferential duty programs. ECS’ work in the classification area includes requesting binding rulings from the Customs Service, responding to Customs’ requests for information, filing protests, and developing arguments and strategies in connection with proceedings before the Court of International Trade.

  • On behalf of one of its trade association clients, ECS submitted arguments to the Customs Service that persuaded Customs to drop plans to reclassify goods into a tariff classification that would have resulted in a competitive disadvantage to domestic producers of these goods.
  • In a ruling request submitted on behalf of a client, ECS argued that the client’s imported merchandise, which was combined with U.S.-made merchandise subsequent to importation, functioned as a part of the completed product rather than as a stand-alone product. Customs agreed, and the resulting classification significantly lowered the importer’s duty obligation.