CHAPTER TWO - OFFENSE CONDUCT


PART T - OFFENSES INVOLVING TAXATION


3.      CUSTOMS TAXES


Introductory Commentary

This Subpart deals with violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 496, 541-545, 547, 548, 550, 551, 1915 and 19 U.S.C. §§ 283, 1436, 1464, 1465, 1586(e), 1708(b), and 3907, and is designed to address violations involving revenue collection or trade regulation.  It is intended to deal with some types of contraband, such as certain uncertified diamonds, but is not intended to deal with the importation of other types of contraband, such as drugs, or other items such as obscene material, firearms or pelts of endangered species, the impor­tation of which is prohibited or restricted for non-economic reasons.  Other, more specific criminal statutes apply to most of these offenses.  Importation of contraband or stolen goods not specifically covered by this Subpart would be a reason for referring to another, more specific guideline, if applicable, or for departing upward if there is not another more specific applicable guideline.

Historical Note:  Effective November 1, 1987.  Amended effective November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 453); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 674); November 1, 2006 (see Appendix C, amendment 685).


§2T3.1.     Evading Import Duties or Restrictions (Smuggling); Receiving or Trafficking in Smuggled Property 

(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.


Commentary

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), 3907.  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.

Historical Note:  Effective November 1, 1987.  Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 235); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 410); November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 453); November 1, 1998 (see Appendix C, amendment 577); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendment 617); November 1, 2006 (see Appendix C, amendment 685).