Is your U.S. entity required to file the BE-120 survey?

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Is your U.S. entity required to file the BE-120 survey?

Alert Date: June 20, 2018

By: Timothy G. Dietrich
Related Practice Area: Business

The United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis is seeking foreign trade statistical reporting responses from all United States entities with combined inbound (import) transactions of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) or combined outbound (export) transactions of Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000.00) during fiscal year 2017 (including intercompany transfers) related to intellectual property transactions and sale of services transactions.  The report filing requirement is mandatory.  The filing requirements are also somewhat onerous.  In addition, failure to respond and file the BE-120 survey is punishable by civil fines of up to Forty-Five Thousand Dollars ($45,000.00) and the potential for criminal penalties, including a fine up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) and up to one year imprisonment. 

The 2017 survey is a new version of prior surveys conducted several years ago, but on steroids.  Some reports indicate that this may be an attempt by the Trump Administration to identify situations where foreign companies and governments are taking advantage of U.S.-owned intellectual property. 

The survey covers intellectual property transactions as well as sales of “goods” not having physical form (such as computer software) and a broad range of sales of services.  Here is a link to the BEA webpage and form BE-120:

The deadline to respond is June 29, 2018 (or July 30, 2018, if e-filed). 

Note that there are different levels of reporting detail.  The level of detail required increases with larger transactional amounts.  The more detailed level of reporting requires that you “disaggregate” your transactional amounts into various categories, which may present some challenges if your data is not organized to provide this information.  There are confidentiality restrictions in place to assure that the responses may only be used for analytical and statistical purposes and cannot be used to identify individual transactions or used for taxation or other uses by the government and that the responses are immune from FOIA requests and discovery in legal proceedings.

For more information on import/export matters, please contact Timothy Dietrich.