Harding v. Woodcock
137 U.S. 43 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Harding v. Woodcock, 137 U.S. 43 (1890)

Harding v. Woodcock

No. 29

Argued and submitted October 32, 1890

Decided November 3, 1890

137 U.S. 43

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE

Syllabus

The due and regular assessment of a distiller's tax by an internal revenue collector, properly certified, is a sufficient defense to the collector in an action on the case against him by the distiller to recover the value of property seized and sold for the payment of the tax upon the ground that, in a subsequent action by the United States against the distiller and the sureties on his bond to recover the uncollected portion of the same tax, its assessment was adjudged to have been invalid, and this defense may be set up under the general issue without pleading it specially in justification.

This was an action against the collector of internal revenue of the Fifth Collection District of Tennessee for an alleged wrongful seizure and sale of property of the plaintiff upon an assessment against him as a distiller of liquors, made by the

Page 137 U. S. 44

Commissioner of Internal Revenue. It was commenced in a state court of Tennessee, and upon application of the defendant was removed to the circuit court of the United States. The material facts as disclosed by the record were these: the plaintiff in 1881 and in 1882 owned and operated a distillery of liquors in the County of Robertson, Tennessee, and had executed the bond required by statute in such cases. In July, 1881, an assessment was made against him for taxes alleged to be due to the United States, amounting to $4,339.37, for whiskey supposed to have been produced by him at his distillery. The plaintiff thereupon applied to the commissioner, in accordance with the statutes and the regulations of the Treasury Department, to reconsider the assessment, termed in the statute an appeal to him, but a reconsideration was refused. Upon the assessment, the defendant, as collector, on the 3d of January, 1882, seized property belonging to the plaintiff consisting of 578 gallons of whiskey, and on the 16th of that month sold the same for $32. On the second of June, 1882, he seized other personal property of the plaintiff and also levied upon the distillery premises containing ten acres, and soon afterwards sold both for $7 6.72. The price thus received was greatly below the actual value of the property. The plaintiff delivered the personal property and the distillery to the purchaser, with a deed of the latter premises.

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