U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Citroen, 223 U.S. 407 (1912)
United States v. Citroen
Argued November 1, 1911
Decided February 19, 1912
223 U.S. 407
In order to produce uniformity in the Imposition of duties, the dutiable classification of articles imported must be ascertained by an examination of the imported article itself in the condition in which it is imported.
A prescribed rate of duty cannot be escaped by disguise or artifice, but if the article imported is not the article described as dutiable at a specified rate, it does not become dutiable under the description because it has been manufactured for the purpose of being imported at a lower rate.
The court is not concerned with reasons for a distinction in the tariff act -- it is enough that Congress made it.
Pearls, unset and unstrung, are dutiable under par. 436 of the tariff Act of 1897 at ten percentum, and not under par. 434 at sixty percentum, because capable of, or intended for, being strung as a necklace. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The fact that a pearl has been drilled -- as is the case with more than seventy-five percent of all large pearl when they come from the wholesale dealer -- does not take it out of par. 436 and make it dutiable under par. 434 at sixty percentum.
Congress will not be presumed, in framing a tariff, act to have contemplated a radical departure from the policy of former tariff legislation when it will also be necessary to presume that Congress, in doing so, also disregarded facts of the trade.
After reviewing provisions of former tariff acts and prior decisions in regard to pearls and the duties to be levied upon them, held that pearls, not strung or set, although suitable for being strung as a necklace, are not to be classed by similitude under par. 434 and subjected to the higher duty of sixty percentum.
Where a tariff act, as that of 1897, provides for pearls set or strung and for pearls not strung or set, it will not be presumed that Congress intended to leave an unenumerated class of pearls to be classed by similitude.
166 F.6d 3 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the construction of paragraphs 434 and 436 of the Tariff Act of 1897 as applied to pearls, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary