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United States v. Savings Bank, 104 U.S. 728 (1881)

United States v. Savings Bank

104 U.S. 728


1. The Court of Claims has jurisdiction of a suit brought against the United States to recover back certain taxes and penalties alleged to be of the character mentioned in secs. 3220, 3228, Rev.Stat., where payment thereof was refused to the plaintiff, whose claim thereto had in due time been presented on appeal to and allowed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. United States v. Kaufman, 96 U. S. 567, cited and approved.

2. Lodging the appeal with the proper collector of internal revenue, for transmission to the Commissioner in the usual course of business, under the requirements of the Treasury regulations, is in effect the presentation of it to the Commissioner.

Sections 3220 and 3228 of the Revised Statutes are as follows:

"SEC. 3220. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, subject to regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, is authorized, on appeal to him made, to remit, refund, and pay back all taxes erroneously or illegally assessed or collected, all penalties collected without authority, and all taxes that appear to be unjustly assessed or excessive in amount, or in any manner wrongfully collected. . . ."

"SEC. 3228. All claims for the refunding of any internal tax alleged to have been erroneously or illegally assessed or collected, or of any penalty alleged to have been collected without authority, or of any sum alleged to have been excessive or in any manner wrongfully collected, must be presented to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue within two years next after the cause of action accrued. . . ."

The material regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury applicable to this case are these:

"Claims for the refunding of taxes erroneously assessed and collected should be presented through the collectors of the respective districts upon blank form No. 46. . . ."

"The collector should keep a perfect record, in a book furnished for the purpose, of all claims presented to the Commissioner, and must certify as to each claim, whether it has been before presented or not."

"Where the case of an appeal involves an amount exceeding

Page 104 U. S. 729

two hundred and fifty dollars, and before it is finally decided the Commissioner of Internal Revenue will transmit the case, with the evidence in support of it, to the Secretary of the Treasury for his consideration and advisement."

For some years it has been the practice of the officers of the Treasury Department to regard appeals for refunding taxes illegally assessed and paid, when deposited with collectors, under the rules, in season to be forwarded to Washington within the two years' limitation, to have been duly presented to the Commissioner according to law.

On the 10th of July, 1878, the Real Estate Savings Bank of Pittsburgh, Pa., paid to the collector of internal revenue for the proper district in Pittsburg, certain internal taxes which had before that time been assessed, and on the 9th of July, 1880, it presented to the same collector, at his office, an appeal to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, made out on the blank form prescribed by the Secretary, to refund and pay back $972.69, which, it was alleged, had had been illegally assessed, and erroneously paid. This appeal was delivered to the collector in time to have reached Washington by due course of mail on the 10th of July if it had been promptly forwarded, but it was retained until the 15th, when it was sent to the Commissioner with an endorsement by the collector that he had investigated the facts and found the statements of the claimant were in all respects true. The papers reached the Commissioner on the 17th of July, and he, on the 13th of October following, submitted them to the Secretary of the Treasury, as required by the regulations, for his consideration and advice. On the 18th of October, the Secretary signified to the Commissioner his approval of the payment of the claim, and on the 21st the Commissioner certified its allowance. On the presentation of this certificate through the accounting officers of the Treasury Department, payment was refused. The certificate has never been revoked by either the Secretary or the Commissioner, but it is still in force so far as the action of these officers is concerned. After payment was refused, suit was brought on the certificate in the Court of Claims, where judgment was given for the claimant. From this judgment, the United States appealed.

Page 104 U. S. 730

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