Criminal Law

Customs Taxes - Offenses Involving Taxation

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§2T3.1GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

(a) Base Offense Level:

(1) The level from §2T4.1 (Tax Table) corresponding to the tax loss, if the tax loss exceeded $1,000; or

(2) 5, if the tax loss exceeded $100 but did not exceed $1,000; or

(3) 4, if the tax loss did not exceed $100.

For purposes of this guideline, the "tax loss" is the amount of the duty.

(b) Specific Offense Characteristic

(1) If the offense involved sophisticated means, increase by 2 levels. If the resulting offense level is less than level 12, increase to level 12.

(c) Cross Reference

(1) If the offense involves a contraband item covered by another offense guideline, apply that offense guideline if the resulting offense level is greater than that determined above.


Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 496, 541-545, 547, 548, 550, 551, 1915; 19 U.S.C. §§ 283, 1436, 1464, 1465, 1586(e), 1708(b). For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. A sentence at or near the minimum of the guideline range typically would be appropriate for cases involving tourists who bring in items for their own use. Such conduct generally poses a lesser threat to revenue collection.

2. Particular attention should be given to those items for which entry is prohibited, limited, or restricted. Especially when such items are harmful or protective quotas are in effect, the duties evaded on such items may not adequately reflect the harm to society or protected industries resulting from their importation. In such instances, an upward departure may be warranted. A sentence based upon an alternative measure of the "duty" evaded, such as the increase in market value due to importation, or 25 percent of the items’ fair market value in the United States if the increase in market value due to importation is not readily ascertainable, might be considered.

3. Sophisticated Means.—For purposes of subsection (b)(1), "sophisticated means" means especially complex or especially intricate offense conduct pertaining to the execution or concealment of an offense. Conduct such as hiding assets or transactions, or both, through the use of fictitious entities, corporate shells, or offshore financial accounts ordinarily indicates sophisticated means.

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