The Feds Are Suspending Some Tariff Payments. They Should Suspend All of Them.

It's almost like Americans are paying for them, and like Trump doesn't actually believe in free trade.


The federal government will grant some temporary relief to importers by suspending and delaying some tariff payments, even as President Donald Trump reportedly resists calls for a full repeal of his tariffs.

The Wall Street Journal reports Wednesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is notifying companies that "payment of estimated duties, taxes, and fees" will be suspended "on a case-by-case basis" due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Those delays come shortly after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) postponed the deadline for filing corporate and personal income taxes from April 15 to July 15. As with the postponement of Tax Day, the tariff relief seems designed to remove a burden from American businesses and consumers in advance of what is expected to be a severe recession.

While CPB's decision to delay tariff payment is a welcome step in the right direction, it falls far short of what some business groups are asking the Trump administration to do. In a letter to the White House last week, more than 100 business and trade associations asked the president to immediately lift his tariffs on steel, aluminum, and goods made in China.

"These tariffs are taxes that Americans pay," Americans for Free Trade, the umbrella group that sent the letter, wrote. "We urge you to provide tariff relief as one of the measures to help those hurting financially from the economic effects resulting from the current public health crisis."

Research from The Trade Partnership, a pro-trade consulting firm, concludes that a full suspension of the tariffs imposed since Trump took office would boost the U.S. economy by $75 billion, or about 0.4 percent of GDP.

Trump, so far, does not seem swayed—and he continues to push the obvious lie that China is paying the cost of the tariffs.

"China is paying us billions and billions of dollars in tariffs and there's no reason to do that," Trump said last week when asked for a response to the letter, The Wall Street Journal reported. "I can't imagine Americans asking for that."

Throughout the two years of Trump's trade war, a popular defense of the president's approach to trade has been for his supporters to argue, against all available evidence, that Trump is actually trying to lower trade barriers. Mostly, this defense hinges on a single comment that Trump made at the G7 summit in July 2018. "No tariffs. No barriers. That's the way it should be," Trump said.

It's hard to argue with that.

But nothing Trump has done since then suggests that robust free trade is his ultimate goal. Indeed, his resistance to suspending tariffs or dropping his counterproductive trade war even in the face of a pandemic and looming recession should prove as much.

A little relief on a case-by-case basis is fine for the businesses that get that special treatment. If some tariff relief is good for the economy, more tariff relief would be better.

NEXT: Coronavirus Is Causing Freaky Friday for Helicopter Parents

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Looking for some added source of income? This is how you can make a decent income every month! Try it for yourself!
    After being without work for 6 months, I started completing a simple online work over this website I found online,and I couldn’t be happier now.
    Results… After 3 months of doing this my monthly income increased by $8900 per month by working for just several hours per week…
    Start by following the instructions here…………..W­­­W­­­­W­­­­­.­­­­­n­­­e­­w­­b­­­­o­­­x­­3.­­­­C­­­­o­­­­m­­­­

  2. Our trading partners can lower their trade restrictions and they might get lower US tariffs.

    1. Remember when Trump offered our trading partners Free Trade at the G-7 Summit?

      They refused.

      1. Of course they refused. They have no incentive to accede. Because *we*, not they, are bearing the burden of US tariffs.

        1. “Because *we*, not they, are bearing the burden of US tariffs.”
          I don’t when I don’t buy tariffed goods. Tariffs are paid upon entry into the USA not upon sales like a sales tax. If nobody buys those particular goods, Americans never paid the tariffs on those goods.

          *They* need the American market which is why they all caved. We are the richest nation in the World with wide ranging needs and wants with the wealth to back it up.

        2. Except when he made that offer, the effects of tariffs hadn’t even hit. They turned down the offer because they didn’t want to lift their tariffs that they use to protect their industries, because they were more than happy to take over the outsourced jobs our economy was shedding.

          If you’re going to make an anti-Trump argument on tariffs, try making an honest one.

  3. I guess “on a case-by-case basis” is better than nothing, but jesus-fucking-christ the bureaucracy! How many forms do I have to fill to have my case reviewed? How many useless bodies are going to justify their salaries by rubber-stamping them, and being slow about it?

  4. So reason doesn’t support a payroll tax holiday because that will increased the deficit, but they do support suspending tarrifs which will also increase the deficit?

    Where is OBL when you need him?

  5. “It’s almost like Americans are paying for them, and like Trump doesn’t actually believe in free trade”

    It’s almost like TDS makes its victims cry wolf so many times that the townspeople just don’t bother coming to check it out anymore–regardless of whether there’s really a wolf–and who can blame them?

    1. Eric keeps repeating that assertion but the inflation data keeps having no signal. It is a pesky problem.

  6. So a tank of gas in South Carolina is running $1.87/gal.

    The 2012 U.S. federal excise tax $0.184/gal $0.244/gal diesel.
    On average state and local taxes add $0.311/gal $0.302/gal diesel. Totaling – $0.495/gal $0.546/gal diesel

    That’s a 26.5% Tax (could be said Tariff) on domestic purchases of gas.

    Then of course the UN’s UPU treaty the U.S. signed onto during the late 90’s “Free-Trade” initiative made it so the USPS has to ship foreign produce for practically nothing which essentially ended up being subsidized by taxpayers.

    “But hey”, Boehm repeats endlessly, “Tax exempting foreign produce over our own and subsidizing it in the process is what libertarians are all about????”

    Why can’t Boehm write about why in the world the U.S. is taxing gas domestically when States are the ones taking care of the roads????

    1. Boehm is a moron Propagandist who refuses to acknowledge all the trade restrictions to nearly every good and service.

      Payroll taxes
      FICA taxes
      Sales taxes
      Federal regulation
      State regulation
      Local regulation
      Excise taxes
      Business taxes
      Permit fees
      License fees
      Property taxes
      Telecom taxes
      Electricity taxes
      Water taxes
      Garbage taxes

      All that gets tacked onto the cost of what a company is selling.

  7. The issue of who pays the tariff, us or China, is right out of Econ 101 on the topic of legal versus economic incidence of taxation. The legal incidence means nothing, it is the economic incidence that matters and you can find that from simple supply and demand curves. The much more salient point is that a tariff, regardless of who pays it, results in less of the item being in the country. Pass tariffs on cars, steel and aluminum and you will end up with less cars, less steel and less aluminum in America. So, someone please tell me how we’re better off with less of these three vitally important things.

    1. Rut Ro… Bastiat is not welcome here. Personally I’m a big fan, but anyone who quotes him or relates any of his ideas is gonna get shit on. Big Time. He wouldn’t have voted for Trump. That makes Bastiat, and anyone who quotes, references, or otherwise likes him, the enemy.

      1. Just ask loveconstitution1789. Maybe you can have a conversation with him. Ever since I tried to explain the distinction between legislation and law he’s referred to me in the third person. Too much of a coward to confront my big brain directly.

        There is some impenetrable ignorance in these parts.

        Good luck!

        Like the handle by the way.

    2. Poor sarcasmic so many sock trolls, so little time.

      1. You think everyone who disagrees with you is a sock. This is a new guy. Extend some basic courtesy. Jerk.

        1. “Extend some basic courtesy. Jerk.”

          lol… Says the commenter who’s goes out of his/her way to attack every post lc1789 makes and has been hung up on making some totally insignificant point about a difference between law and legislation.

          Just saying – maybe its time to evaluate the level of projection with that statement. 🙂

          1. Um no. Thanks you for playing.

          2. +200 bling!

          3. Give up on sarc, he broken

            1. He has been broken for a while.

              1. As the cheerleader shout Go Team Go!

              2. Will you have a conversation about the distinction between law and legislation?

                Do you think the Nolan Chart has merit or do you stick to a linear, right left, paradigm?

                Lets have these conversations. But you’re married to lc and his idiocy.

                Why is that moron your leader?

            2. Know what Nardz, you’re right. I want to have conversations based upon principles instead of TRUMP IS AWESOME but I’m the weirdo. You’re right. I’m broken. I don’t worship Dear Leader. So yeah. And since you’re so fond of violence upon people who disagree with, you , go to North Korea. Oh crap. Wrong cult of personality. Good tune.

              1. Really? Living Colour. whatevz

                1. You citing principles is rich. Kavanaugh ring a bell?

      2. Oh, and congrats on learning some html tags. I thought it was beyond your meager intelligence. Good job.

    3. Can you point to actual data to prove your theory? I point to inflation data on every thread tariffs are brought up. There is no signal. I can point to many analysts, including Krugman, who have admitted the costs on tariffs have cause supply shifts or companies to absorb excess costs from their profits. Consumers have not seen supply shortage or cost shock. Why can the companies absorb costs? Because they still have more profit margin based on decreased regulation and subsidies from the Chinese government. Every regulation the feds put out on goods generated here is the same as a tariff on a foreign manufacturer. Yet I never see you dummies discuss US regulatory theory on these threads. Long story short…

      There is no cost signal in inflation data. Sometimes, well most of the time in economics, theory is wrong in some instances.

      1. He is a fan of libertarian scholars. Obviously he has no place on a libertarian blog. Real world people know that libertarians are mere children, awaiting a Republican to set them straight.

        Thank you.

        1. No, libertarians are socialists who can’t accept that their open borders failed spectacularly or that their “free” trade with hostile mercantilists didn’t result in optimal free market outcomes. Keep telling yourself that moving critical supply chains to China was a great idea; I’m sure there’s a pony somewhere under all of that shit.

    4. Now do income taxes. Tell me which is better (more efficient) consumption taxes or income taxes. You should be boned up on the theory and empirical evidence given your nick selection.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.