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United States v. Security Tr. & Sav. Bank, 340 U.S. 47 (1950)

United States v. Security Trust & Savings Bank

Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13

Argued October 16, 1950

Decided November 13, 1950

340 U.S. 47


1. A tax lien of the United States obtained under 26 U.S.C. §§ 3670, 3671, 3672, held prior in right to an attachment lien on property in California obtained under California Code of Civil Procedure, §§ 537, 542(a), where the federal tax lien was recorded subsequent to the date of the attachment lien, but before the attaching creditor obtained judgment. Pp. 340 U. S. 48-51.

2. The effect of a state law lien in relation to a provision of federal law for the collection of debts owed the United States is a federal question. P. 340 U. S. 49

3. Although a state court's classification of a lien as specific and perfected is entitled to weight, it is subject to reexamination by this Court. On the other hand, if the state court itself describes the lien as inchoate, this classification is practically conclusive. Pp. 340 U. S. 49-50.

4. As described by the highest court of California, the attachment lien under the law of that State is contingent or inchoate. P. 340 U. S. 50.

5. Priority in right of federal tax liens obtained under 26 U.S.C. §§ 3670, 3671, 3672, is not defeated by a contingent, inchoate lien prior in time. Pp. 340 U. S. 50-51.

6. The result in this case cannot be affected by the doctrine of relation back. P. 340 U. S. 50.

93 Cal.App.2d 608, 209 P.2d 657, reversed.

In four suits involving parcels of land in California, a state court awarded a Judgment creditor priority over liens of the United States for taxes. The District Court of Appeal affirmed. 93 Cal.App.2d 608, 209 P.2d 657. The State Supreme Court declined to hear the case. This Court granted certiorari. 339 U.S. 947. Reversed, p. 340 U. S. 51.

Page 340 U. S. 48

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