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Proposed Revocation & Modification for Anti-Stress Figures

Apr. 13, 2021
By: Meaghan E. Vander Schaaf


CBP has proposed a revocation and modification of two rulings that would effectively change the classification of polyurethane anti-stress figures from a duty-free provision to a Chapter 39 provision carrying a 5.3% duty rate.

In the proposed revocation and modification, CBP specifically refers to three rulings from the late 90s: NY A81640 (April 8, 1996), NY B83710 (April 16, 1997) and NY B86962 (dated July 22, 1997). In all three of these rulings CBP classified polyurethane anti-stress figures, in various shapes, in subheading 9503.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for “[t]ricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls, other toys; reduced-scale (“scale”) models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof”. CBP has reviewed NY A81640, NY B83710 and NY B86962 and has determined the ruling letters to be in error. CBP’s new position is that the polyurethane anti-stress figures, that are not in the shape of balls, are properly classified in subheading 3926.40.00, which provides for “[o]ther articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: [s]tatuettes and other ornamental articles.”

In their analysis, Customs reviewed the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) Explanatory Notes (ENs) and focused on the intended use of the anti-stress figures. In particular, Customs cited General EN to Chapter 95, which provides that Chapter 95 “covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults.” Additionally, EN 95.03 states that heading 9503 includes dolls and other toys for “the amusement of persons (children or adults).” While noting that neither the HTSUS nor the ENs state that a classification as a toy is dependent on use, Customs cited the Court of International Trade holding in Minnetonka Brands v. United States that found heading 9503 is actually a principal use provision for toys. 24 C.I.T. 645, 651 (2000).

Per Minnetonka, Customs now finds that the polyurethane anti-stress figures are not toys for classification purposes because neither the principal use, nor the intended use, is amusement. Citing NY F81529 (January 28, 2000), CBP notes that the anti-stress function, where the item is squeezed and released in a sequential manner, is not the type of play value of a toy. Instead, CBP found that the principal use of anti-stress items in that case was for marketing purposes as the articles were printed with advertising logos. Now, CBP finds that polyurethane anti-stress figures, not in the shape of balls, are merely decorative articles of plastics.

              Comments are due on this proposed ruling on or before April 30, 2021. If you have questions about the classification of anti-stress figures or wish to submit a comment with respect to the proposed revocation and modification, contact any attorney at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn for assistance.