Patton v. Brady
Annotate this Case
184 U.S. 608 (1902)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Patton v. Brady, 184 U.S. 608 (1902)
Patton v. Brady
Argued December 6, 1901
Decided March 17, 1902
184 U.S. 608
A case arises under the Constitution of the United States when the right of either party depends on the validity of an act of Congress, which is
the fact in this case.
In this case, the cause of action survived the death of the defendant, and was rightfully revived in the name of his executrix.
The tax on manufactured tobacco is a tax on an article manufactured for consumption and imposed at a period intermediate the commencement of manufacture and the final consumption of the article.
The tax which is levied thereby is an excise.
Taxation may run pari passu with expenditure, and the courts cannot revise the action of Congress in this respect.
A general tax may be charged upon property once charged with an excise, and the power to tax it as property, subject to constitutional limitations as to the mode of taxing property, is not defeated by the fact that it has already paid an excise.
The legislative determination as to the reasonableness of an excise in amount or as to the property to which it is applied is final.
It is within the power of Congress to increase an excise at least while the property is held for sale and before it has passed into the hands of the consumer.
On July 14, 1899, plaintiff in error, as plaintiff below, commenced this action in the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against J. D. Brady, collector of internal revenue for the Second District of Virginia. In his declaration, he alleged that, in May, 1898, he had purchased in the open market and in the regular course of business 102,076 pounds of manufactured tobacco; that all the requisites of the internal revenue laws of the United States then existing had been fully complied with, stamps placed upon the boxes containing the tobacco, and regularly and duly cancelled subsequent to April 14, 1898, and the tobacco removed from the factory, and that, when he made his purchase, the entire tax due the United States under and by virtue of such laws had been paid. The declaration then proceeded:
"After the Act of Congress approved June 13, 1898, entitled 'An Act to Provide Ways and Means to Meet War and Other Expenditures, and for Other Purposes,' had been enacted, the defendant, James D. Brady, who is the collector of internal revenue for the Second District of the State of Virginia, in which he and plaintiff reside, and in the month of June, 1898, demanded of plaintiff that he pay the sum of $3,062.28 as an additional tax to be paid upon said tobacco, which he claimed was imposed upon the same by the second paragraph of the third section of said act. Plaintiff refused to pay the same; whereupon the defendant threatened plaintiff that, unless he did
pay it, he would treat plaintiff as a delinquent, and would seize his property under the provisions of an act of Congress applicable to such case, and would sell the same. Under the coercion of this demand and threat, plaintiff paid the sum of $3,062.28 to the defendant, but he did so under protest and with notice to the defendant that he would sue him to recover it back."
"Plaintiff avers that said section 3 of said Act of June 13, 1898, imposing said additional tax upon his tobacco, is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and said acts of Congress authorizing the defendant to seize plaintiff's property and sell it if he did not pay the same are also repugnant to said Constitution, and that his suit therefore arises under the Constitution of the United States."
"On the 17th day of June, 1899, the plaintiff set out all of the foregoing facts in an application to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue of the United States according to the laws in that regard and the regulations of the Secretary of the United States established in pursuance thereof, and he appealed to said Commissioner of Internal Revenue to have said money so unlawfully extorted from him returned to him, but said Commissioner of Internal Revenue, on the ___ day of July, 1899, rejected said appeal and refused to direct said money to be returned to plaintiff. The said Commissioner did not reject said appeal because of any informality in the manner in which it was made, but because he was of opinion that said act of Congress imposing said tax was consistent with the Constitution of the United States, and that said tax was lawfully collected, by all of which acts and doings the plaintiff is damaged $6,000, and therefore he sues."
Summons having been served, the case came on for hearing on the motion of the United States attorney for the district to dismiss the action on the ground that the act of Congress set forth in the declaration was not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, which motion was sustained, and on September 22, 1899, the action was dismissed. To review such ruling, plaintiff sued out this writ of error.