(a)General requirements. In conducting an audit under 19 U.S.C. 1509(b), the CBP auditors, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (f) of this section, will:
(1) Provide notice, telephonically and in writing, to the person to be audited of CBP's intention to conduct an audit and a reasonable estimate of the time to be required for the audit;
(2) Inform the person who is to be the subject of the audit, in writing and before commencement of the audit, of that person's right to an entrance conference, at which time the objectives and records requirements of the audit, and any sampling plan to be employed or offsetting that may apply, will be explained and the estimated termination date of the audit will be set. Where a decision on a sampling plan and methodology is not made at the time of the entrance conference, CBP will discuss these matters with the person being audited as soon as possible after the discovery of facts and circumstances that warrant the possible need to employ sampling;
(3) Provide a further estimate of any additional time for the audit if, during the course of the audit, it becomes apparent that additional time will be required;
(4) Schedule a closing conference upon completion of the audit on-site work to explain the preliminary results of the audit;
(5) Complete a formal written audit report within 90 calendar days following the closing conference referred to in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, unless the Executive Director, Regulatory Audit, Office of International Trade, CBP Headquarters, provides written notice to the person audited of the reason for any delay and the anticipated completion date; and
(6) After application of any disclosure exemptions contained in 5 U.S.C. 552, send a copy of the formal written audit report to the person audited within 30 calendar days following completion of the report.
(b)Petition procedures for failure to conduct closing conference. Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (f) of this section, if the estimated or actual termination date of the audit passes without a CBP auditor providing a closing conference to explain the results of the audit, the person audited may petition in writing for a closing conference to the Executive Director, Regulatory Audit, Office of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, Washington, DC 20229. Upon receipt of the request, the director will provide for the closing conference to be held within 15 calendar days after the date of receipt.
(c)Use of statistical sampling in calculation of loss of duties or revenue—
(1)General. In conducting an audit under this section, regardless of the finality of liquidation under 19 U.S.C. 1514, CBP auditors have the sole discretion to determine the time period and scope of the audit and will examine a sufficient number of transactions, as determined solely by CBP. In addition to examining all transactions to identify loss of duties, taxes, and fees under 19 U.S.C. 1592 or loss of revenue under 19 U.S.C. 1593a, or to determine compliance with any other applicable customs laws or other laws enforced by CBP, CBP auditors, at their sole discretion, may use statistical sampling methods. During the audit, CBP auditors will explain the sampling plan and how the results of the sampling will be projected over the universe of transactions for purposes of calculating lost duties, taxes, and fees or lost revenue and, where appropriate, overpayments and over-declarations eligible for offsetting under paragraph (d) of this section. The person being audited and CBP will discuss the specifics of the sampling plan before audit work under the plan is commenced. Once the sampling plan is accepted, the audited person waives the ability to contest the validity of the sampling plan or its methodology at a later date and challenges of the sampling will be limited to challenging computational and clerical errors. CBP's authority to conduct the audit or employ statistical sampling is not dependent on the audited person's acceptance of the specifics of the sampling plan. An audited person's acceptance of the sampling plan and methodology must be in writing and signed by a management official with authority to bind the company in matters of trade, imports, and/or other affairs under the customs laws, CBP regulations, or other applicable laws. The audited person may submit the signed waiver to the CBP auditor. The appropriate field director, Regulatory Audit, will sign the waiver for CBP. Where the sampling plan or methodology is subsequently adjusted or modified, at CBP's discretion, acceptance of the adjustments or modifications also must be in writing and signed. This is not a waiver of the audited person's right to later contest substantive issues, such as misclassification, undervaluation, etc., that may properly be raised under applicable regulations, including in a request for CBP Headquarters advice under 19 CFR 171.14, a request for CBP Headquarters review under 19 CFR 162.74(c), a response to a prepenalty notice issued by CBP under 19 U.S.C. 1592(b)(1) or 19 U.S.C. 1593a(b)(1), a petition submitted in response to a penalty notice issued by CBP under 19 U.S.C. 1592(b)(2) or 19 U.S.C. 1593a(b)(2) (19 CFR part 171) and 19 U.S.C. 1618, a supplemental petition submitted under 19 CFR 171.61 and 171.62, or any action commenced in a court of proper jurisdiction.
(2)Projection. For purposes of this section, “projection” of sampling results over the universe of transactions is the process by which the results obtained from the sample entries actually examined are applied to the universe of entries set within the time period and scope of the sampling plan to yield a reliable assessment of that which is sought to be ascertained or measured in the audit, including, but not limited to, lost duties or revenue, or overpayments or over-declarations, as described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section.
(3)When CBP uses statistical sampling. CBP auditors have the sole discretion to use statistical sampling techniques when:
(i) Review of 100 percent of the transactions is impossible or impractical;
(ii) The sampling plan is prepared in accordance with generally recognized sampling procedures; and
(iii) The sampling procedure is executed in accordance with that plan.
(4)Statistical sampling by audited persons under CBP supervision. CBP may authorize a person being audited to conduct, under CBP supervision, self-testing of its own transactions within the time period and scope of the audit as originally set or later modified by CBP at its discretion. Audited persons permitted in advance by CBP to conduct self-testing of certain transactions under CBP supervision within the time period and scope of a CBP audit may use statistical sampling methods, provided that the criteria contained in paragraph (c)(3) of this section are satisfied. CBP will determine the time period and scope of the CBP-approved and supervised self-testing and will explain any sampling plan to be employed in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this section. The execution and results of the self-testing and the sampling plan are subject to CBP approval, and the audited person is subject to the waiver of paragraph (c)(1) of this section.
(5)Statistical sampling by a private party submitting a prior disclosure. A private party conducting an independent review of certain transactions and a calculation of lost duties, taxes, and fees or lost revenue for purposes of prior disclosure, in accordance with 19 CFR 162.74(j), may use statistical sampling, provided that the private party submits an explanation of the sampling plan and methodology employed and that the criteria in paragraph (c)(3) of this section are satisfied. Where the private party submits a prior disclosure employing statistical sampling, the time period, scope, and any sampling plan employed by the private party, as well as the execution and results of the self-review, are subject to CBP review and approval. Where CBP and the private party discuss and accept the sampling plan and methodology, or an adjustment to it, the waiver of paragraph (c)(1) of this section applies.
(d)Offset of overpayments and over-declarations in 19 U.S.C. 1592 penalty cases—
(1)General. In conducting any audit authorized under 19 U.S.C. 1509 and this section for the purpose of calculating the loss of duties, taxes, and fees or monetary penalty under any provision of 19 U.S.C. 1592, CBP auditors identifying overpayments of duties or fees or over-declarations of quantities or values that are within the time period and scope of the audit, as established solely by CBP, will treat the overpayments or over-declarations on finally liquidated entries as an offset to any underpayments or under-declarations also identified on finally liquidated entries, provided that:
(i) The identified overpayments or over-declarations were not made by the person being audited for the purpose of violating any provision of law, including laws other than customs laws,
(ii) The identified underpayments or under-declarations were not made knowingly and intentionally, and
(iii) All other requirements of this paragraph (d) are met.
(2)When audited person conducts self-testing under CBP supervision. Offsetting will apply to self-testing conducted by an audited person under CBP supervision (i.e., during a CBP audit), provided that all requirements of this paragraph (d) are met, CBP approves the self-testing in advance and, upon review of the self-testing, CBP approves its execution and results.
(3)When a private party submits a prior disclosure. Offsetting will apply when a private party submits a prior disclosure, provided that the prior disclosure is in accordance with 19 CFR 162.74 and CBP approves the private party's self-review, including its execution and results. CBP's Office of International Trade, Regulatory Audit will review and evaluate all such prior disclosures and approve offsetting where it is satisfied that the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1509(b)(6) and this paragraph (d) are met.
(4)Time period and scope determined by CBP; projection when sampling employed. In conducting an audit under paragraph (d)(1) of this section or authorizing an audited person's self-testing as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, CBP will have the sole authority to determine the time period and scope of the audit. In conducting a review of a private party's prior disclosure as described in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, the time period and scope employed will be subject to CBP approval. In each of these circumstances, where statistical sampling is involved, CBP auditors will examine only the selected sample transactions. The results of the sample examination, with respect to properly identified overpayments and over-declarations and properly identified underpayments and under-declarations, will be projected over the universe of transactions to determine the total overpayments and over-declarations that are eligible for offsetting and to determine the total loss of duties, taxes, and fees.
(5)Same acts, statements, omissions, or entries not required. Offsetting may be permitted where the overpayments or over-declarations were not made by the same acts, statements, or omissions that caused the underpayments or under-declarations, and is not limited to the same entries that evidence the underpayments or under-declarations, provided that they are within the time period and scope of the audit as established by CBP and as described in paragraph (d)(4) of this section.
(6)Limitations. Offsetting will not be allowed with respect to specific overpayments or over-declarations made for the purpose of violating any provision of law, including laws other than customs laws. Offsetting will not be allowed with respect to overpayments or over-declarations resulting from a failure to timely claim or establish a duty allowance or preference. Offsetting will be disallowed entirely where CBP determines that any underpayments or under-declarations identified for offsetting purposes were made knowingly and intentionally.
(7)Audit report. Where overpayments or over-declarations have been identified in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the audit report will state whether they have been made within the time period and scope of the audit.
(8)Disallowance determinations referred to Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office. Any determination that offsets will be disallowed where overpayments/over-declarations were made for the purpose of violating any law, or where underpayments or under-declarations were made knowingly and intentionally, will be made by the appropriate Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures (FP&F) office to which the issue was referred. CBP will notify the audited person of a determination whether to allow offsetting in whole or in part. The FP&F office will issue a notice of penalty under 19 U.S.C. 1592(b) and/or notice of liability for lost duties, taxes, and fees under 19 U.S.C. 1592(d) where it determines that such action is warranted. If the FP&F office issues a notice of penalty, the audited person may file a petition under 19 U.S.C. 1592(b)(2), 19 U.S.C. 1618, and 19 CFR part 171 to challenge the action.
(9)Refunds limited. An overpayment of duties and fees will only be credited toward a refund if the circumstances of the overpayment meet the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1520 or the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1514(a) pertaining to clerical error, mistake of fact, or other inadvertence in any entry, liquidation, or reliquidation.
(e)Sampling not evidence of reasonable care. The fact that entries were previously within the time period and scope of an audit conducted by CBP in which sampling was employed, in any circumstances described in this section, is not evidence of reasonable care by a violator in any subsequent action involving such entries.
(f)Exception to procedures. The provisions of paragraph (a) of this section may not apply when a private party submits a prior disclosure under paragraph (d)(3) of this section. Paragraphs (a)(5), (a)(6), (b), (d)(8), and (d)(9) of this section do not apply once CBP and/or ICE commences an investigation with respect to the issue(s) involved.