Dandelet v. Smith - 85 U.S. 642 (1873)
U.S. Supreme Court
Dandelet v. Smith, 85 U.S. 18 Wall. 642 642 (1873)
Dandelet v. Smith
85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 642
1. Under the twentieth section of the Internal Revenue Act of June 30, 1864, as amended by the ninth section of the Act of July 13, 1866, it is not necessary that an assessor, in making a reassessment for deficiencies, should make his reassessment coincide, month by month, in the terms which it covers, with the monthly returns of the manufacturer; that is to say, it is not requisite that he should make a separate specification of deficiency for each defective return.
2. Nor, under the terms of the act of 1866, when the reassessment was made within fifteen months from the passage of the act, was it necessary that the reassessment should have reference only to returns made within fifteen months prior to the reassessment.
3. Nor, under the Act of March 2, 1867, conceding that since the act of 1866 brewers are taxable, in the first instance, by stamps per barrel, and not on monthly returns, would a reassessment for deficiency be void, even though it had been made out on the principle of an assessment for false returns, under the previous act of July 13, 1866.
By different Internal Revenue Acts a tax was laid on brewers, by which they were made liable thus:
From September, 1862, to March 1, 1863 . . $1.00 per bbl. [Footnote 1]
From March 1, 1863, to March 31, 1864. . . .60 per bbl. [Footnote 2]
From April 1, 1864 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.00 per bbl. [Footnote 3]
And after the 30th of June, 1864, a penalty of 50 cents was added where the return was erroneous because of refusal or neglect.
By the Internal Revenue Act of June 30, 1864 [Footnote 4] (section 20), the assessors were to make out lists containing the names of persons residing in their respective districts, and having property liable to tax, together with the sums payable by each, which lists the assessors were to send to the collectors.
The Internal Revenue Act of July 13, 1866, [Footnote 5] enacted further (by its ninth section):
"The assessor may, from time to time, or at any time within fifteen months from the time of the passage of this act, or from the time of the delivery of the to the collector as aforesaid, enter on any monthly or special list, . . . the names of the persons or parties, in respect to whose returns as aforesaid there has been or shall be any omission, undervaluation, understatement, or false or fraudulent statement, together with the amounts for which such persons or parties may be liable, over and above the amount for which they may have been, or shall be, assessed upon any return, or returns made as aforesaid, and shall certify or return said list to the collector as required by law."
This same act [Footnote 6] of 1866 changed the mode of assessing and collecting the tax on malt liquors, and made the tax on them after the 1st of September, 1866, payable by stamps. And an Act of March, 1867, by its fifth section, [Footnote 7] enacted:
"That if the manufacturer of any article upon which a tax is required to be paid by means of a stamp, shall have sold or removed for sale any such articles, without the use of the proper
stamp, in addition to the penalties now imposed . . . it shall be the duty of the assessor . . . upon such information as he can obtain, to estimate the amount of the tax which has been omitted to be paid, and to make an assessment therefor, and certify the same to the collector, and the subsequent proceedings for collection shall be in all respects like those for the collection of taxes upon manufactures and productions."
In this state of the law, Dandelet, a brewer, in Baltimore, from the year 1862 had made monthly statements or returns to the assessor of what beer he admitted that he made, and these were delivered to the collector. In August, 1867, the assessor made an assessment for alleged deficiencies, the same being in the following form:
F. Dandelet's Assessment
Deficiency from Sept. 1, '62, to Feb. 28, '63, 522 bbls. at $1 $ 522.00
Deficiency from March 1, '63, to March 31, '64, 922 bbls. at 60 c. 555.00
Deficiency from April 1, '64, to June 30, '64, 216 bbls. at $1 216.00
Deficiency from July 1, '64, to April 20, '67, 1425 bbls. at $1 1,425.00
Fifty cents penalty on $1,425 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 712.50
This assessment was entered on the monthly list for August, 1867, delivered to one Smith as collector, and after the remission of the penalty of $712.50, the balance was paid under protest. An appeal was duly made by Dandelet to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and was dismissed, after which this suit was brought to recover back the tax paid, and being tried by the court, judgment was given for the defendant. That judgment it was which was now brought here for review.