Did you know that all toys (dolls) resembling people are taxed higher than regular toys (robots, etc.) when imported into the US? We didn’t either until we read a case involving Marvel Comic’s lovable mutants, The X-Men. Sherry Singer and Indie Singh, lawyers who worked for Marvel, “went down to the customs office with a bag of XMEN action figures to convince the US government that these mutants are NOT human. That argument eventually became a court case that went on for years,“reports RadioLab.
Singer and Singh argued successfully that since the X-Men aren’t considered people in the Marvel Universe, they are not dolls, not representations of humans; and should be taxed lower as toys. Below is a sampling of the litigation.
Plaintiff Toy Biz, Inc. (“Toy Biz”) brings this action to challenge the tariff classification by the United States Customs Service (“Customs” or “Defendant”) of various items imported from China and entered at the ports of Seattle and Los Angeles in 1994.The items are action figures from various Marvel Comics series, including the “X-Men,” “Spider-Man,” and the “Fantastic Four,” and an additional item called “Jumpsie,” which is not an action figure. The items are packaged in boxes or blister packs attached to colorful cardboard backing covered with printed illustrations and writing. The packaging of a number of items includes small accessories, such as weapons and other equipment.Customs classified the items as “Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof: Dolls whether or not dressed: Other: Not over 33 cm in height,” under subheading 9502.10.40 of the HTSUS (1994), dutiable at 12% ad valorem.Toy Biz contends that the action figures at issue are properly classifiable as “Toys representing animals or other non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters) and parts and accessories thereof: Other,” under subheading 9503.49.00, HTSUS (1994),dutiable at 6.8% ad valorem.Toy Biz further contends that “Jumpsie” should be classified as a “toy set,” under HTSUS (1994) subheading 9503.70.80, dutiable at 6.8% ad valorem.