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Court Rules on Classification of Items Used During Holidays

Friday, March 03, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled March 1 that certain dinnerware and other items with holiday themes or designed to be used during holidays are properly classified according to their constituent materials and dutiable at rates ranging from three to six percent. These items include decorative ceramic plates, mugs, and gravy boats as well as crystal flutes, punch bowls, and footed hurricane lamps. They feature Christmas and Thanksgiving motifs and most are designed to be used to serve food and beverages at holiday dinners.

The plaintiff argued that the items are classified as utilitarian articles of a kind used in the home in the performance of specific religious or cultural ritual celebrations for religious or cultural holidays or religious festive occasions under HTSUS 9817.95.01 (duty-free). However, the court said Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners are not specific cultural ritual celebrations because rituals generally encompass specific scripted acts customarily performed in an often formal or solemn manner and are not merely any event that occurs on a regular basis. The court adds that unlike the exemplars listed in this subheading the items at issue do not play a particular role within the sequence of activities that form the respective cultural ritual celebrations.

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