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Federal Circuit: Tariff classification of imported hand tools

Federal Circuit: Tariff classification of hand tools

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today affirmed the holding of the U.S. Court of International Trade with regard to the tariff classification of imported hand tools as “pliers.”


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The case is: Irwin Industrial Tool Co. v. United States, 2018-1215 (Fed. Cir. April 9, 2019). Read the Federal Circuit’s decision [PDF 120 KB]


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) classified the imported tools as “wrenches” under subheading 8204.12.00 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), and denied each of the company’s protests to classify them as “pliers.” The company eventually filed suit in the trade court challenging CBP’s tariff classification.

The trade court denied CBP’s motion for summary judgment that the tools were properly classified as wrenches, and instead granted the company’s motion for summary judgment that the tools were properly classified as pliers. In the trade court’s view, the facts demonstrated that the imports were pliers within HTSUS subheading 8203.20.6030 because the tools:

  • Were versatile hand tools
  • Had two handles
  • Had two jaws, that were flat or serrated and were on a pivot, which could be squeezed together to enable the tools to grasp an object

The Federal Circuit today concluded that the trade court did not err in granting the company’s motion for summary judgment that the tools at issue were properly classified as pliers and that the term pliers was not defined by use. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed the trade court’s interpretations of the term “wrenches” in HTSUS subheading 8204.12.00 and “pliers” in HTSUS subheading 8203.20.6030. Under those interpretations, the company’s tools were found to be properly classified as pliers.


For more information on this topic or to learn more about KPMG’s Trade & Customs Services, contact:

Doug Zuvich
Partner and Global Practice Leader
T: 312-665-1022

John L. McLoughlin
Principal and East Coast Leader
T: 267-256-2614

Andy Siciliano
Partner and National Practice Leader
T: 631-425-6057

Luis (Lou) Abad
Principal, Washington National Tax
T: 212-954-3094

Irina Vaysfeld
T: 212-872-2973

Amie Ahanchian
Managing Director
T: 202-533-3247

Robert Waldrop
T: 212-954-8117

Gisele Belotto
Managing Director
T: 305-913-2779

Christopher Young
T: 312-665-3229

Andy Doornaert
Managing Director
T: 313-230-3080

George Zaharatos
T: 404-222-3292

Jessica Libby
Managing Director
T: 612-305-5533

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