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What are Tariff Refunds?

Even with the new Administration, the U.S. - China trade war still has no clear signs of ending. Since the trade war began in 2018, tariffs have been lobbied back and forth by the two countries. This has resulted in many businesses taking a large hit to their profits as they find themselves scrambling to make up the difference or find new sources for materials and goods that are not so heavily tariffed.

Tariff Refunds Explained

Luckily for US-based businesses, many organizations were able to take advantage of the Section 301 exclusions that provide a path toward refunds on qualifying tariffed purchases. While the process can take some time, there is ample financial incentive that makes the process well worth the effort. In fact, it is estimated that over a billion dollars in refunds through Section 301 tariff exclusions have been left on the table by US organizations despite the large number of exclusions that have already been awarded.

Aside from receiving tariff refunds in the form of exclusions granted by the government, there is another potential avenue many businesses are currently pursuing to cushion their losses.

Suing for a Refund

After the World Trade Organization (WTO) found the United States in breach of global trading rules due to the tariffs imposed during the trade war, nearly 3,500 US companies filed suits against the Trump administration’s alleging illegal tariffing actions.

These suits specifically challenge the legality of the List 3 and List 4A tariffs. With so many organizations already filing suits, many are considering hopping onto the bandwagon in hopes of reaping the rewards should the US government be found to have acted illegally.

The massive number of suits has overloaded the Court of International Trade and may likely result in a few or just one of the cases to be tried as a test case. HMTX Industries LLC et al. v. United States (Court No. 20-00177) is a likely candidate for a test case as it was the first suit filed. The outcome of these cases could potentially result in the overturning of List 3 and List 4A tariffs—totaling over $300 billion worth of Chinese products.


With multiple ways of claiming for a refund, it makes sense to talk to a professional to see if you qualify. Our team of customs brokerage experts are ready to answer any questions you might have. Contact ClearFreight today to see how we can help to improve your supply chain.

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