Is a Snuggie a Blanket? It Might Matter Legally
You have probably heard of the Snuggie, and you’ve likely even seen some of those late-night advertisements for this device, which may or may not be a blanket based on who you ask. It acts like a blanket, but it also has sleeves, and that had caused some people – well, U.S. government lawyers – to try to say that it is not a blanket, but it is clothing instead.
What Do Taxes Have to Do with It?
Now, you are probably asking yourself an obvious question right now. Why would the government of the United States care if something were classified as a blanket or not? The answer probably won’t surprise you. It’s all about money. The government places taxes on imports, and certain types of goods are required to have higher taxes. Higher taxes will mean more money for the government. Not only that, but higher tariffs on foreign products make manufacturers in the country more competitive.
The Snuggie is a product manufactured in China, and when it crosses the border into the United States, it receives a tax. If it is considered a blanket, the tax is less than if it were considered a piece of clothing. Naturally, the US government wants to attempt to get as much as they can.
When importing blankets, the tariff is 8.5%. However, when it comes to pullover apparel, the tariff is 14.9%. This is a massive difference, and having the items classified as clothing would cost the company that makes the clothing, Allstar Marketing Group in NY, a substantial amount of money. In fact, the disparity was so great that they decided to head to the U.S. Court of International Trade and challenge the government’s assertion that the Snuggie was apparel.
Fortunately for Snuggie, the judge sided with them. The judge said that it was a blanket and not a piece of clothing. The reasoning for this was that even though the item had holes in it for the arms, it did not have any closures in the back.
The tariffs for goods imported into the United States are part of a complicated system, that does not appear to be getting any less complicated. Many politicians, including the current administration in the United States, are trying to find other ways to tax companies or to introduce more tariffs in the future, all in a goal to give companies in the United States an advantage when it comes to domestic sales.
This means that if those changes were to go through, you can expect to see quite a few other cases of companies taking their case to the courts. Who knows what other strange and as-seen-on-TV items might eventually be the subject of one of these cases!
Sure, it might seem silly to think about Snuggie having to duke it out in court with attorneys for the United States, but now that you know the reasoning, it makes a lot of sense. This was a win for Snuggie, but a blow to the U.S.