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President Trump Issues Proclamations Imposing Increased Tariffs on Imported Aluminum and Steel

On March 8, 2018, President Trump issued two executive proclamations to impose much-talked-about import tariffs on aluminum and steel, respectively. These proclamations, which are set to become effective March 23, 2018, impose tariffs on certain imported steel and aluminum of 10% for aluminum articles, and 25% for steel articles. The new tariffs are ad valorem taxes imposed on the value of the imported aluminum and steel.

The revised tariffs apply to specified items of imported steel and aluminum that enter the United States or are withdrawn from a warehouse for consumption on or after March 23, 2018. According to the proclamations, due to certain shared commitments and physical proximity among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the new tariffs do not apply to steel and aluminum imported from Canada or Mexico. 

President Trump indicated that he believes the tariffs are necessary in light of the Secretary of Commerce's report dated January 11, 2018, which highlighted national security and national defense concerns associated with imported aluminum and steel. President Trump's executive actions were taken without action by Congress and were instead based on authority provided to the Executive under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and the Trade Act of 1974.

Importantly, the proclamations leave open the possibility for relief from the new tariffs in certain instances, where appropriately authorized by the Secretary of Commerce. Therefore, importers are well advised to review the potential for exemption from these new tariffs. The Secretary of Commerce is required to issue procedures by March 18, 2018, to guide taxpayers with respect to requests for relief from the new tariffs.

© 2020 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Erin Haney, Tax attorney, Varnum

Erin is a member of Varnum's Tax Practice Team. As a former senior auditor for the Michigan Department of Treasury, she is experienced in Michigan tax compliance and controversy matters. Erin is also a certified public accountant, and she worked as a tax consultant for a major accounting firm prior to pursuing a career in law. During law school she served as a research assistant reviewing updates for the Guidebook to Michigan Taxes and completed an internship with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Eric R. Post, Retail Manufacturing Lawyer, Varnum, Corporate & business attorney

Eric is a business and corporate attorney who advises startups, private and family-owned businesses, and multinational companies in the automotive, manufacturing, technology, retail and health care industries. His practice is focused on domestic and international mergers, stock and asset acquisitions, joint ventures, business entity formation, export and import compliance, international trade and a wide variety of general business matters, including commercial contracts, regulatory compliance, strategic and operational issues, and general corporate governance. Eric also advises his business clients on succession planning, asset protection and general estate planning matters.

Additionally, Eric represents clients in a variety of real estate transactions, including the purchase, sale and lease of commercial, residential and industrial property. Eric has acted as counsel for buyers, sellers, landlord, tenants, developers and condominium associations.

Wayne D. Roberts, Corporate tax attorney, Varnum

Wayne is a member of Varnum’s Tax Team. His practice includes all aspects of federal and state tax planning and tax litigation. He represents both closely-held and Fortune 100 companies in tax disputes with the IRS, the Michigan Department of Treasury, and revenue departments in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, New York, California and numerous other state and local taxing jurisdictions.