Singer Sewing Machine Co. v. Benedict - 229 U.S. 481 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
Singer Sewing Machine Co. v. Benedict, 229 U.S. 481 (1913)
Singer Sewing Machine Company v. Benedict
Argued May 5, 1913
Decided June , 1913
229 U.S. 481
Under § 723, Rev.Stat., a bill in equity does not lie in the courts of the United States where a plain, adequate and complete remedy can be had at law.
Where it is obvious that there is a remedy at law, it is the duty of the court to interpose that objection sua sponte to a suit in equity.
Where, as in this case, there has been no waiver on the part of the defendant, the objection is available in the appellate court.
The illegality or unconstitutionality of a state or municipal tax is not itself a ground for equitable relief in the federal courts. Boise Water Co. v. Boise City, 213 U. S. 276.
The state courts cannot define the equity jurisdiction of the federal courts, but where the state courts have held that a suit in equity could be maintained in the courts of the state, the same suit can be maintained in the federal court having jurisdiction in other respects.
In Colorado one paying an illegal tax has a remedy at law to recover it back, and the fact that the tax list is prima facie evidence of the amount due does not make it conclusive.
The fraud, accident or mistake necessary to justify an equitable action to enjoin the collection of a tax must be more than mere illegality.
179 F. 628 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the construction of § 723 Rev.Stat., and the right to maintain a bill in equity to restrain the collection of taxes where the taxpayer has a plain and adequate remedy at law, are stated in the opinion.