United States v. La Franca
282 U.S. 568 (1931)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. La Franca, 282 U.S. 568 (1931)

United States v. La Franca

No. 74

Argued January 27, 1931

Decided February 24, 1931

282 U.S. 568

Syllabus

1. Failure to enter an exception to an order of the district court overruling pleas of former jeopardy and res judicata does not preclude their consideration on review where the facts were agreed to by stipulation entered of record. P. 282 U. S. 570.

2. A tax on retail liquor dealing sought to be recovered under § 701, par. 9, of the Revenue Act of 1924, which was passed in lieu of a similar provision in the Act of 1918, repeated in the Act of 1921, is properly treated as having been imposed by an Act in force prior to the enactment of the National Prohibition Act (1919). P. 282 U. S. 571.

3. The "tax" imposed by § 35, Title 2, of the National Prohibition Act, which provides for the assessment and collection of a "tax" in "double the amount now provided by law" upon evidence of an illegal sale under the Act, is not a true tax, but a penalty. P. 282 U. S. 572.

4. A tax is an enforced contribution to provide for the support of government; a penalty, as the word is here used, is an exaction by statute as punishment. If an exaction be clearly a penalty, it cannot be converted into a tax by calling it such. Id.

5. A statute must be construed, if fairly possible, so as to avoid not only the conclusion that it is unconstitutional, but also grave doubts upon that score. P. 282 U. S. 574.

Page 282 U. S. 569

6. In § 5 of the Willis-Campbell Act (1921), by which laws and penalties respecting taxation of and traffic in intoxicating liquor, in force when the National Prohibition Act was enacted, are continued in force, with the proviso that, where any act violates any such prior law and also the National Prohibition Act, conviction under one shall be a bar to prosecution under the other, the word "prosecution" must be construed to include a civil action to recover a penalty for an act declared to be a crime. P. 282 U. S. 575.

7. Statutes amended are to be read, as to all subsequent occurrences, as if they had originally been in their amended form. P. 282 U. S. 576.

8. A civil action to recover taxes imposed by R.S. § 3244 and § 701 of the Revenue Act of 1924, and the additional taxes and penalties provided by § 35, Title 2, of the National Prohibition Act, is barred, under § 5 of the Willis-Campbell Act, by a prior conviction based on the same transaction as the taxes. P. 282 U. S. 575.

37 F.2d 269 affirmed.

Certiorari, 281 U.S. 713, to review a judgment of the circuit court of appeals which reversed a judgment of the district court for the government, 2 F.2d 706, in a suit to recover from the respondent taxes and penalties.

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