Editor’s Note: The complete GAO report GAO-15-491R is available here. Below is an excerpt.
Results in Brief
E-cigarette import volume and tariff revenue are unknown, because the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS)—which is used to classify U.S. imports and exports for tariff and other purposes—does not contain statistical reporting numbers specific to e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, e-cigarette parts, and e-cigarette liquid are imported under HTS statistical reporting numbers for residual or basket categories that cover a range of goods, such as special effects strobe lights, seaweed extracts, and hand sanitizer. As a result, although CBP collects data on import volume and tariff revenue for the basket categories that include e-cigarettes, parts, and liquid, CBP officials said that they are unable to identify the volume of and tariff revenue from e-cigarette imports within these categories.
The interagency Committee for Statistical Annotation of Tariff Schedules, if requested, can create statistical reporting numbers to classify specific goods to improve an industry’s or the federal government’s ability to track import and export volume and tariff revenue for imported goods, but there are currently no statistical reporting numbers specific to e-cigarette imports. The committee consists of USITC, Census, and CBP. According to USITC officials, no entity had requested statistical reporting numbers for e-cigarettes, parts, or liquid as of April 1, 2015.