Cochran v. United States - 254 U.S. 387 (1921)
U.S. Supreme Court
Cochran v. United States, 254 U.S. 387 (1921)
Cochran v. United States
Argued December 15, 16, 1920
Decided January 3, 1921
254 U.S. 387
Section 29 of the War Revenue Act of June 13, 1898, which taxed legacies and distributive shares at so much per hundred dollars of clear value, was repealed by the Act of April 12, 1902, with a proviso saving all taxes imposed by § 29 prior to July 1, 1902, when the repeal became effective. In an action against the United States to recover taxes computed, returned, and voluntarily paid by executor after July 1, 1902, on legacies paid over before that date, held:
1. That a formal assessment prior to July 1, 1902, was not necessary to bring the taxes within the saving clause as taxes "imposed" prior to that date. P. 254 U. S. 390.
2. That such assessment was not necessary to ascertain the value of life interests in trust funds, their value being ascertainable by computation upon mortality tables and rules lawfully adopted by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Id. See Simpson v. United States, 252 U. S. 547.
3. That the fact that the estate was not completely settled and that the legatees and trustee might be liable to refund if retained asset proved insufficient to pay all claims was no ground for recovery of the taxes, in view of the facts that the personal estate greatly exceeded in value the amount of the legacies, and the total of claims and expenses during many years after the commencement of administration was comparatively insignificant. P. 254 U. S. 392.
4. One who seeks to recover money voluntarily paid as a tax upon the ground that the tax was illegal must prove its illegality, and may not rely on mere assertion and speculation. P. 254 U. S. 393.
54 Ct.Clms. 219 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.