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If I order a knit hat on Ebay directly from China, how is the 10% (increasing to 25% on Friday per Donald Trump's tweet) tariff paid?

It's possible that the Ebay seller pays the tariff and tariff effects are already included in their advertised price, but I doubt that.

It's possible that Ebay could collect the tariff as a separate charge at checkout (and pay the USA government directly), but I don't see such a charge.

So, it seems more likely that the hat will be delivered to my home with no tariff effect and it is then my obligation to pay the tariff by filing a customs form (and I would bet most people do not pay or file, which is illegal but hardly caught; by the way, it seems the seller usually labels the package as a "gift" to make this avoidance easier), with a small probability (increasing with package size/weight) that my order is instead stopped at customs to await my upfront payment. Is that correct? If so, is anything being tightened to force better compliance?

I believe the hat is item 6505.00.15 from the official China tariff list: https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/301Investigations/Tariff%20List-09.17.18.pdf

  • Perhaps the price will change on Friday? Or perhaps the price will change when new inventory arrives(and is then being sold) that costs the seller more? – Bob Baerker May 7 at 17:14
  • Talking out of my behind (which is why it's a comment). I don't think private citizens generally have to worry about tariffs. If you do have to pay, your package will likely be held up at customs with you having to go, pay customs (including tariffs) and pick it up. – xyious May 8 at 15:06
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For orders below $800 "imported by one person on one day", there is no tariff.

I'm guessing Donald Trump wants to lower this $800 all the way to $0 (to bring jobs to USA). Tariffs in this limit would still be easy to collect since eBay (and all international mail order companies) has recently been forced to collect state sales tax at checkout anyway.

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