During the mid-1970's the United States adopted two laws that seek to counteract the participation of U.S. citizens in other nation's economic boycotts or embargoes. These "antiboycott" laws are the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA) and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA).
The antiboycott laws were adopted to encourage, and in specified cases, require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction. They have the effect of preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to U.S. policy.
The Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that U.S. companies must be concerned with today. The antiboycott laws, however, apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are unsanctioned by the United States.
The antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to all "U.S. persons," defined to include individuals and companies located in the United States and their foreign affiliates. These persons are subject to the law when their activities relate to the sale, purchase, or transfer of goods or services (including information) within the United States or between the U.S. and a foreign country. This covers U.S. exports and imports, financing, forwarding and shipping, and certain other transactions that may take place wholly offshore.
Generally, the TRA applies to all U.S. taxpayers (and their related companies). The TRA's reporting requirements apply to taxpayers' "operations" in, with, or related to boycotting countries or their nationals. Its penalties apply to those taxpayers with foreign tax credit, foreign subsidiary deferral, FSC (Foreign Sales Corporation), and IC-DISC (Interest Charge-Domestic International Sales Corporation) benefits.
Conduct that may be penalized under the TRA and/or prohibited under the EAR includes:
Implementing letters of credit containing prohibited boycott terms or conditions.
The TRA does not "prohibit" conduct, but denies tax benefits ("penalizes") for certain types of boycott-related agreements.
The EAR requires U.S. persons to report quarterly requests they have received to take certain actions to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott.
The TRA requires taxpayers to report "operations" in, with, or related to a boycotting country or its nationals and requests received to participate in or cooperate with an international boycott. The Treasury Department publishes a quarterly list of "boycotting countries."
The EAR requires reports of receipts of boycott requests to be filed quarterly on form BIS 621-P for single transactions or BIS 6051P for multiple transactions received in the same calendar quarter.
The forms are available on-line in a fillable pdf format, or you may still obtain paper forms. Go to the forms located on this Web site. To obtain paper copies by U.S. mail, call the Office of Antiboycott Compliance in Washington, DC at (202) 482-2448.
TRA reports are filed with tax returns on IRS form 5713. This form is available from local IRS offices.
The EAR prescribe the penalties for violations of the Antiboycott Regulations as well as export control violations. These can include:
The penalties imposed for each "knowing" violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years. During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each "willful" violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.
For each violation of the EAR any or all of the following may be imposed:
Boycott agreements under the TRA involve the denial of all or part of the foreign tax benefits discussed above.
The $10,000 maximum per violation specified in the EAA is adjusted periodically pursuant to law for inflation. The maximum civil penalty for any violation committed after October 23, 1996 is $11,000 per violation.
U.S. Department of Commerce
BIS/Office of Antiboycott Compliance, Room 6098
Washington, D.C. 20230
or by E-Mail
Department of the Treasury
Office of the General Counsel, Room 2004
Washington, D.C. 20220