In estimating the duty payable at the custom house upon imported
iron, it was proper to levy it on the prices at which the iron was
charged in the invoices, and the entry in the invoices that the
importer would be entitled to a deduction for prompt payment could
not affect the amount of duty chargeable.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE NELSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
The suit was brought in the court below by the plaintiffs
against the defendant, collector of the port of Baltimore, to
recover back an excess of duties paid under protest on an
importation of iron.
The iron was shipped from Liverpool, and on an appraisal at the
custom house in Baltimore, the invoice price was adopted as the
minimum market value upon which to assess the duties. The
plaintiffs claimed that the iron ought to be appraised at the
actual cash market value or cash wholesale price, instead of the
actual market value or wholesale price at a credit of four months,
the usual time in the purchase of iron. But the collector insisted
upon the invoice price as the minimum valuation. Two invoices are
given in the record as specimens of those produced at the trial.
One of them contains the price of the iron, with a deduction of two
and a half percent for prompt payment, which means cash; the other
adds at the foot four months credit, which is the customary credit
in the trade.
The court charged the jury that it being admitted that the
duties were levied on the prices at which the iron was charged in
the invoices, they were lawfully exacted, and the plaintiffs not
entitled to recover, and that the entry in the invoice that the
plaintiffs would be entitled to a deduction for prompt payment
could not affect the amount of duty chargeable.
The eighth section of the act of 1846 9 Stat. 43 provides
"That under no circumstances shall the duty be assessed
Page 60 U. S. 383
upon an amount less than the invoice value, any law of Congress
to the contrary notwithstanding."
It is claimed that this section has been repealed by the Act of
Congress of March 3, 1851, 9 Stat. 629, which provides that the
"cause the actual market value, or wholesale price thereof at
the period of the exportation to the United States, in the
principal markets of the country from which the same shall have
been imported &c., to be appraised &c., and to such value
or price shall be added all costs and charges &c., as the true
value at the port where the same may be entered,"
Previous to this act, the time when the value of the article in
the foreign market was to be ascertained was the time of the
purchase, Act 30 August, 1842, sec. 16, 5 Stat. 563; now, by the
act of 1851, the time of exportation. There is no change, however,
in the rule which must govern in making the valuation -- it is the
actual market value or wholesale price in the principal markets of
the country from which the article shall have been imported. The
only real change, therefore, in respect to this matter under the
law of 1851 from that of 1842 and 1946 would seem to be a change of
the time when the valuation is to take place, without intending to
interfere with any other of the regulations in the former laws.
This was the interpretation given by the department of the
government having charge of this subject soon after the passage of
the act in question, and we think may be sustained upon the
principles that this Court has uniformly applied in interpreting
these revenue laws.
The construction is also borne out by the case of
18 How. 522. That case recognizes the
eighth section of the act of 1846 as in force since the act of
1851, and the clause in question is a part of it.
In respect to the deduction from the price on account of prompt
payment, we think the fact does not vary or affect the price of the
article as stated in the invoice. It relates simply to the mode of
payment, which may, if observed, operate as a satisfaction of the
price to be paid by the acceptance of a less sum.
We think the ruling of the court below right, and that the
judgment should be