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of an internal-revenue officer, much less to review the action of a court in respect of such a claim. Their jurisdiction in respect of such "damages” under that section, is purely ministerial; it relates solely to the payment of a judgment of a court. In this respect the accounting officers have the like jurisdiction—no more and no less. If the proceedings, as shown by the record, are valid, and there is an appropriation to pay the judgment, there is, then, a duty to pay it, irrespective of any executive opinion as to the merits of the adjudicated claim.
If, because of the want of notice to the district attorney, the judgment of the circuit court imposes no liability on the United States, neither the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, nor the Secretary of the Treasury, nor the accounting officers, nor the Court of Claims, have authority, in this case, to inquire as to damages sounding in tort, and declare the United States liable therefor.
The claim in this case rests either (1) on the judgment of the circuit court, or (2) on the allowance of damages in tort, and without any judgment as a basis for the allowance, by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. If on the judgment, no liability against the United States exists, because of want of notice to the district attorney; if on an allowance by the Commissioner, as for damages, the allowance was made without authority or jurisdiction, and hence it is void. In either case there is no right on the part of the claimant to a payment by the accounting officers, or to a judgment in the Court of Claims.
IN THE MATTER OF THE AUTHORITY OF A DISTRICT COURT TO CORRECT AND REDUCE, BY CONSENT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, A JUDGMENT RECOVERED BY THE UNITED STATES.-SEAT'S CASE.
1. When a judgment is rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction in favor of the
United States for a given sum of money, no officer of the Government can law4. A judgment debtor, who makes a voluntary payment of the judgment, cannot re
fully surrender the rights thereby vested, unless authorized to do so by statute. 2. A final judgment in favor of the United States on a distiller's bond, executed under
section 3260 of the Revised Statutes, cannot, with the consent of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and of the attorney of record of the United States, in the action in which the judgment was taken, be released or reduced in
amount. 3. After the term at which such final judgment is rendered in a district court of the
United States, the court cannot, with the consent of any officers, set aside or annul it, when there has been no motion filed to set it aside at the judgment term.
cover from the United States the money so paid, unless authorized by Congress. 5. When money has been paid on the judgment, it cannot be refunded, under sections
3220 and 3689 of the Revised Statutes, as “taxes illegally collected.” 6. The judgment is conclusive evidence that the tax was legally collected. No ex
ecutive officer can collaterally impeach, or otherwise deny, the validity of the judgment, or the legality of the tax to enforce payment of which it has been
rendered. 7. A voluntary bond to the United States for a lawful purpose, not prohibited by
statute or public policy, is valid. 8. Under section 3260 of the Revised Statutes, a distiller may be required to give
bond “on the first day of May of each” year succeeding that in which his first bond is given. A bond may be conditioned only to run to the first day of May
succeeding its execution; but if made indefinite in time it is valid accordingly. In February, 1869, James T. Carter engaged in the business of distilling; first executing a bond, as required by section 7, act of July 20, 1868, (Rev. Stats., 3260,) with Christian Kropp and Thomas B. Harrison as sureties.* During the period from February, 1869, to February, 1870, inclusive, Carter defaulted in the payment of taxes due to the United States in the amount of $628. April 11, 1874, suit was insti. tuted on the distiller's bond in the district court of the United States at Nashville, Tennessee, for the recovery of this amount. On May 8, 1878, judgment was rendered in said court by Judge Trigg in favor of the United States for $628 taxes, and $540.08 interest thereon
*The bond sued on was, in substance, as follows:
UNITED STATES INTERNAL REVENUE.
Distiller's Bond. [This bond must be executed by every distiller before commencing or continuing business under this
act, and on the first day of May in each succeeding year.--Act July 20, 1868, sec. 7.) Know all men by these presents, That we, James T. Carter, as principal, and Christian Kropp and Thomas B. Harrison, as sureties, are held and firmly bound unto the United States of America in the full and just sum of tive thousand dollars, money of the United States; to which payment, well and truly to be made, we, jointly and severally, bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, firmly by these presents.
Sealed with our seals, and dated this 12th day of February, A. D. 1869.
The condition of the foregoing obligation is such, that whereas the said James T. Carter intends, on and after the 17th day of February, 1869, to be engaged in the business of a distiller within the sixth collection district of the State of Tennessee, to wit, in the vicinity of Clarksville, county of Montgomery, and State aforesaid:
Now, therefore, if the said James T. Carter shall in all respects faithfully comply with all the provisions of law in relation to the duties and business of distillers, and shall pay all penalties incurred or tines imposed on him for a violation of any of the said provisions, and shall not suffer the lot or tract of land on which the distillery stands, or any part thereof, or any of the distilling apparatus to be encumbered by mortgage, judgment, or other lien during the time in which he shall carry on said business, then this obligation shall be void; otherwise it shall remain in full force.
JAMES T. CARTER. [SEAL.]
THOMAS B. HARRISON. (SEAL.] ( Witnesses, &c.]
total, $1,168.08. The principal on the bond (Carter) left for parts unknown, and Christian Kropp, one of the sureties, died after the commencement of the suit; whereupon the action was revived, and judgment was rendered against Samuel B. Seat, administrator of said Chris. tian Kropp, who paid the amount thereof to the clerk of the court, and the latter turned it over to the collector of internal revenue on July 15, 1878. Thereafter said administrator, Seat, made application to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the refund of $933.72 of the amount recovered from him, on the ground that the judgment was erroneous, in that under section 7, act of July 20, 1868, (15 Stats., 127; Rev. Stats., 2360,) the distiller was required to execute a new bond on the 1st of May of each year; that the bond upon which suit was brought was only liable for taxes from date of commencing business to April 30, 1869; and that the amount of taxes due for that period was, including interest, only $234.36. The Commissioner rejected the claim, but instructed the United States attorney to have the judgment, if possible, so corrected as to relieve the said bond from all liablility for taxes that became due after April 30, 1869, and to bring suit on a subsequent bond for the amount so released. The district attorney reported that no subsequent bond could be found.
At the October, 1880, term of the United States district court, held at Nashville, Tennessee, Judge Key presiding, a decree was entered, reciting that by the consent of the district attorney, acting with the consent and under the direction of the Commissioner of Internal Rev. enue, the judgment rendered against Samuel B. Seat, administrator of Christian Kropp, May 8, 1878, was erroneous, and is corrected and vacated to the extent of $933.72.
A certified copy of the decree was, November 16, 1880, presented to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with an application of Samuel B. Seat, administrator, for refund of the $933.72 so decreed.*
“At a district court of the United States, begun and held in the federal-court room in the city of Nashville on the 3d Monday, being the 18th day, of October, A. D. 1880.
Present, the Hon. D. M. Key, Judge. “ The following proceedings were had, to wit: “On the 26th day of October, 1880, a decree was entered in the words and figures following, to wit:
“THE UNITED STATES S. B. SEAT, Administrator of Christian Kropp.
"Came the parties by their attorneys, and it appears to the satisfaetion of the court that, on the sth day of May, 1878, in the district.court of the United States for the
H. Ex. Doc. 219– -8
This claim was, March 14, 1881, allowed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and subsequently approved by the Secretary of the Treasury; and an account for its payment was stated by the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury.
Upon the foregoing facts in the case, the questions arise whether the judgment upon which the claim is founded could, after full satisfaction, have been so corrected and vacated by the order of the district court; and whether the liability of the sureties extended beyond the 30th day of April following the date of the execution of the bond.
DECISION BY WILLIAM LAWRENCE, First Comptroller:
The Commissioner of Internal Revenue was authorized to require the suit to be brought which resulted in the judgment in question. He may, under section 3215 of the Revised Statutes, to a certain extent give directions or make regulations as to the proceedings therein up to final judgment.
The Revised Statutes provide as follows:
“SEC. 3214. No suit for the recovery of taxes, or of any fine, penalty, or forfeiture, shall be commenced unless the Commissioner of Internal Revenue authorizes or sanctions the proceedings: Provided, That in case of any suit for penalties or forfeitures brought upon information received from any person, other than a collector or deputy collector, the United States shall not be subject to any costs of suit.”
The duty to collect a judgment, when once rendered, cannot be doubted.
No officer can waive, surrender, or dispose of the property of the United States, unless authorized to do so by statute. (Andræ vs. Redfield, 12 Blatch. C. C., 407; s. C., nom. Andreæ vs. Redfield, 98 U. S., 225; Supervisors vs. Briggs, 2 Denio, 26; s. C., 2 Hill, 135; Receiver's case, 1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 362.)
The law makes specific provision as to the mode in which any part of a judgment may be released, in the following sections of the Revised Statutes:
“SEC. 3229. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the advice and consent of the Secretary of the Treasury, may compromise any ciril or criminal case arising under the internal-revenue laws instead of com.
Middle District of Tennessee, the United States recovered of Samuel B. Seat, administrator of Christian Kropp, the sum of eleven hundred and sixty-eight 1 dollars, and costs of suit; and, it appearing to the court that there is error in said judgment to the extent of nine hundred and thirty-three i'd dollars, the same is so corrected, and by consent of attorneys, the district attorney acting with the consent and under the direction of the Coinmissioner of Internal Revenue, the said judgment is corrected and vacated to the extent of $933 so erroneously rendered, and the clerk of this court will furnish a certified copy of this decree to the defendant."
mencing suit thereón; and, with the advice and consent of the said Secretary and the recommendation of the Attorney-General, he may compromise any such case after a suit thereon has been commenced. Whenever a compromise is made in any case there shall be placed on file in the office of the Commissioner the opinion of the Solicitor of Internal Revenu or of the officer acting as such, with his easons therefor, with a statement of the amount of tax assessed, the amount of additional tax or penalty imposed by law in consequence of the neglect or delinquency of the person against whom the tax is assessed, and the amount actually paid in accordance with the terms of the compromise." (Act July 20, 1868, ch. 186, sec. 102, vol. 15, p. 166. See Stow's case, 5 Ct. Cls., 362.)
“SEC. 3169. Upon a report by a district attorney, or any special attorney or agent having charge of any claim in favor of the United States, showing in detail the condition of such claim, and the terms upon which the same may be compromised, and recommending that it be compromised upon the terms so offered, and upon the recommendation of the Solicitor of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to compromise such claim accordingly. But the provisions of this section shall not apply to any claim arising under the postal laws." (Act March 3, 1863, ch. 76, sec. 10, vol. 12, p. 740; U. S. vs. George, 6 Blatch. C.C., 406.)
It is clear, therefore, that neither the Commissioner of Internal Rev. enue nor the attorney of the United States, nor both together, had any power to release the judgment.
The Commissioner and district attorney did not claim any right, unaided and alone, to do so; but, in form, a portion of the judgment was attempted to be surrendered by the order of court, entered October 26, 1830.
This order was unauthorized and void, because made after the judgment term, and after full payment of the whole judgment.
The subject of compromise has been fully considered by the Attorney-General. (13 Op., 479; 15 Op., 259.)
It has already been decided that a judgment cannot be vacated or changed on mere motion made after the term at which it was rendered. (Dunnegan's case, ante, 87.)
If the Government had been represented by officers clothed with the powers of natural persons, as in cases between them, consent could not, after final judgment, give the court the authority or jurisdiction assumed in this case, because it was denied by the law. [Dunnegan's case, ante, 87; Broom, Leg. Max., 135; Andrews vs. Elliott, 6 E. & B.,388, (88 E. C. L. R.;) Tyerman vs. Smith, Id., 724; Lawrence vs. Wilcock, 11 A. & E., 941, (39 E. C. L. R.;) Vansittart vs. Taylor, 4 E. & B., 912, (82 E. C. L. R.;) Scott vs. Sanford, 19 How., 393; Kelsey vs. Forsyth, 21 Id., 85; Montgomery vs. Auderson, Id., 386; Ballance vs. Forsyth, 1d., 389; Shelton vs. Tiffin, 6 Id., 164; Bank vs. Moss, Id., 31; Albers vs. Whit