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CBP Revokes NY Rulings on, and Reclassifies One-Step Stools

One-step step stools are correctly classified according to their constituent materials and not as furniture, CBP headquarters said in a recently released ruling.

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The ruling reclassified two plastic one-step stools under Harmonized Tariff Schedule subheading 3924.90.56 as “Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles... of plastic," and wooden and fiberboard stools were reclassified under subheading 4421.99.97 as “Other articles of wood." The stools had previously been classified as "seats" under Heading 9401 in a series of rulings by CBP's New York office.

In the ruling, CBP noted that it dealt with one-step stools in other rulings. In two New York Rulings from 1994 and 2002, plastic one-step step stools were classified in subheading 3924.90.55. In a third New York ruling from 2002, a wooden one-step stool was classified in subheading 4421.90.97. A wooden stool specifically designed for a child to stand and reach a countertop was classified in subheading 4421.99.97.

CBP said that it previously addressed the classification of step stools with two or more steps in HQ ruling H202595 from 2018. In that ruling, CBP reclassified multi-step step stools by their constituent material because the stools were not used to equip private dwellings and instead "were more like ladders."

When revisiting the classifications, CBP also considered classification under Heading 9403 as "other furniture." Since both Chapters 39 and 44 exclude articles of furniture, CBP first addressed whether the one-step stools are classified in headings 9401 or 9403. For the purposes of Chapter 94, the term “furniture” refers to “movable” articles, which are constructed for placing on the floor or ground, and which are used, mainly with a utilitarian purpose, to equip private dwellings, public areas, or vehicles and are considered to be “movable” even if they are designed for attachment to the floor, said CBP.

CBP then looked at specific headings, noting that Heading 9401 specifically excluded stools and foot-stools designed to rest the feet, baby walkers, and linen and similar chests having a subsidiary use as seats. The explanatory note for Heading 9401 did include stools that are used as seats like piano stools. CBP said that the types of stools listed in the exemplar were all either round or shaped for use as seating, unlike the one-step step stools at issue.

When considering Heading 9403, CBP said that although it included other furniture such as stools and foot stools, the step stools at issue do not equip private dwellings and do not share characteristics of furniture used to equip private dwellings for rest, relaxation, storage or display as required by Heading 9403. Instead, the step stools at issue are designed to elevate a standing person in order to reach something or perform a task at a greater height. After the task is accomplished, the step stool is designed to be carried and stored when not in use rather than displayed or used as would furniture.