United States v. Alabama
313 U.S. 274 (1941)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Alabama, 313 U.S. 274 (1941)

United States v. Alabama

No. 12, original

Argued April 28, 1941

Decided May 26, 1941

313 U.S. 274

Syllabus

1. The law of Alabama fixes October 1st of each year as the tax day as of which real property shall be assessed for the taxes of the succeeding tax year, and provides a statutory process whereby, in due course, valuations of properties and amounts of tax are determined. Taxes are made liens on the properties taxed, relating back to the tax day and continuing until the taxes have been paid. The lien is effective not only against the owner on the tax day, but also against subsequent purchasers.

Held:

(1) That the tax lien is not objectionable under the Federal Constitution as applied to a purchaser who bought on or after the tax day and before the amount of the tax had been fixed by levy and assessment. P. 313 U. S. 279.

(2) The fact that the purchaser, in such circumstances, was the United States did not invalidate the lien. P. 313 U. S. 281.

(3) Such a lien cannot be enforced against the United States without its consent. P. 313 U. S. 281.

2. A proceeding against property in which the United States has an interest is a suit against the United States. P. 313 U. S. 282.

Page 313 U. S. 275

This was a suit brought in this Court by the United States against the State of Alabama in which the plaintiff sought to have removed, as clouds on its title, tax liens imposed under the law of the State upon lands purchased by the plaintiff.

The Court decrees that tax sales and certificates of purchase, resulting from proceedings in an Alabama county court for enforcement of the liens, shall be set aside, but, in other respects, the bill is dismissed.

Page 313 U. S. 277

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