Lewis v. United States, No. 203

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMINTON
Citation99 L.Ed. 475,348 U.S. 419,75 S.Ct. 415
PartiesFrank LEWIS, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America
Docket NumberNo. 203
Decision Date14 March 1955

348 U.S. 419
75 S.Ct. 415
99 L.Ed. 475
Frank LEWIS, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES of America.

No. 203.
Argued Feb. 3, 4, 1955.
Decided March 14, 1955.

Mr.

Walter E. Gallagher, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Miss Beatrice Rosenberg, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice MINTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

An information was filed in the Municipal Court of the District of Columbia charging the petitioner with violation of 26 U.S.C. § 3290, 26 U.S.C.A. § 3290, in that he engaged in the business of accepting wagers without paying the occupational tax imposed by that section. The Municipal Court sustained

Page 420

a motion to dismiss the information. The Municipal Court of Appeals for the District reversed, 100 A.2d 40, and the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Municipal Court of Appeals. 94 U.S.App.D.C. 205, 214 F.2d 853. We granted certiorari. 348 U.S. 810, 75 S.Ct. 60.

The questions presented in this case are: Does the Act, as applied to the petitioner in the District of Columbia, constitute a valid exercise of the taxing power or is it a penalty under the guise of a tax? Secondly, does it violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition as to compulsory self-incrimination? Thirdly, does it contravene the Fourth Amendment's ban against unreasonable search and seizure? The first two questions were categorically answered in the negative, and the validity and constitutionality of the Act upheld by us in United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754; the third question is not substantially different from the second and is also controlled by Kahriger. The only material factual difference between that case and the instant case is that in Kahriger the violation occurred in a State, namely, Pennsylvania, while in the instant case the violation is charged to have taken place in the District of Columbia.

The statute, 26 U.S.C. § 3290, 26 U.S.C.A. § 3290, provides:

'A special tax of $50 per year shall be paid by each person who is liable for tax under subchapter A or who is engaged in receiving wagers for or on behalf of any person so liable.'

Another section, 26 U.S.C. § 3271, 26 U.S.C.A. § 3271, reads:

'Payment of tax—(a) Condition precedent to doing business.

'No person shall be engaged in or carry on any trade or business mentioned in this chapter until he has paid a special tax therefor in the manner provided in this chapter.'

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Subchapter A, referred to in § 3290, provides in § 3285:

'(a) Wagers.

'There shall be imposed on wagers, as defined in subsection (b), an excise tax equal to 10 per centum of the amount thereof.'

These provisions must be read together, and when we do, it seems clear that payment of the special $50 tax is to be made prior to engaging in the business of accepting wagers.

We held in Kahriger that this statute was a constitutional exercise of the taxing power and was not a penalty under the guise of a tax. 345 U.S. at pages 24—32, 73 S.Ct. at pages 511—515. It is argued that that case involved wagering in a State, where such activity is not a violation of federal law, that the instant case arises in the District of Columbia, where wagering is by federal law a crime, D.C.Code, 1951, § 22—1501 et seq., and that this statute as applied to petitioner in the District of Columbia is a penalty in the guise of a tax. The short answer to this argument is that this Court has long held that the Federal Government may tax what it also forbids. United States v. Stafoff, 260 U.S. 477, 43 S.Ct. 197, 67 L.Ed. 358.

Secondly, it is contended by petitioner that the Act in question is unconstitutional because compliance compels self-incrimination in contravention of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment provides that one cannot be compelled, in a criminal case, to be a witness against himself. It is a shield that prevents one from being convicted out of his own mouth by anything short of voluntary statements.

Petitioner maintains that the taxes imposed are retrospective in application. It is argued that he must be liable for the tax under subchapter A in the sense that he must have already wagered before he is required to take out the occupational tax, and that to require him to do so

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compels admission that he has gambled. We do not so read the statute. The Act does not mean one must first have made a wager as defined in subchapter A and therefore incurred liability to pay the tax levied therein before liability for the occupational tax attaches. The Act is wholly prospective and by its terms did not become applicable until November 1, 1951, more than ten days after its enactment on October 20, 1951. See compiler's note to 26 U.S.C. § 3285, 26 U.S.C.A. § 3285. The statute simply designates a class that is liable to pay the ten percent tax when a wager or wagers are made. Payment of the $50 tax here under consideration is a registration fee that must be paid before...

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127 practice notes
  • Marchetti v. United States Grosso v. United States, Nos. 2
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1968
    ...Marchetti, supra, we have found nothing in United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754, or Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475, which now warrants the exclusion of this situation from the privilege's protection.5 It need only be added that......
  • United States v. Summa, Crim. No. 10212
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • December 26, 1972
    ...the fifth amendment privilege in light of the case law controlling at the time these individuals pled guilty, Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 (1955); United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754 (1953), cannot rise to the level of a wai......
  • Neely v. U.S., No. 76-1113
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • December 15, 1976
    ...154 (3d Cir. 1966). We relied on United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754 (1953) and Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 (1955), authoritative precedents, at the time, which were later expressly overruled by the Supreme Court in Marchet......
  • United States v. Hanon, No. 19519-19521.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 8, 1970
    ...existing at the time of the issuance of the warrants. At such time, the controlling law was to be found in Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475, and United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754. Under the holdings of the cases just cited, pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
126 cases
  • Marchetti v. United States Grosso v. United States, Nos. 2
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1968
    ...Marchetti, supra, we have found nothing in United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754, or Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475, which now warrants the exclusion of this situation from the privilege's protection.5 It need only be added that......
  • United States v. Summa, Crim. No. 10212
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • December 26, 1972
    ...the fifth amendment privilege in light of the case law controlling at the time these individuals pled guilty, Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 (1955); United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754 (1953), cannot rise to the level of a wai......
  • Neely v. U.S., No. 76-1113
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • December 15, 1976
    ...154 (3d Cir. 1966). We relied on United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754 (1953) and Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 (1955), authoritative precedents, at the time, which were later expressly overruled by the Supreme Court in Marchet......
  • United States v. Hanon, No. 19519-19521.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 8, 1970
    ...existing at the time of the issuance of the warrants. At such time, the controlling law was to be found in Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475, and United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754. Under the holdings of the cases just cited, pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Warren Court - After Three Terms
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 9-4, December 1956
    • December 1, 1956
    ...U.S. 385 (1955); Simmons v. United States, 348 U.S. 397 (1955); Gonzales v. United States, 348 U.S. 407 (1955); Lewis v. United States, 348 U.S. 419 (1955); Bell v. United States, 349 U.S. 81 (1955); Quinn v. UnitedStates, 349 U.S. 155 (1955); Emspak v. United States, 349 U.S. 190 (1955); a......

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