Twin City Nat Bank of New Brighton v. Nebecker

Decision Date10 May 1897
Docket NumberNo. 202,202
Citation167 U.S. 196,42 L.Ed. 134,17 S.Ct. 766
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

J. J. Crawford, for plaintiff in error.

Sol Gen. Conrad, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action by the plaintiff in error to recover from the defendant in error the sum of $73.08 alleged to have been paid by the former under protest to the latter, who was at the time treasurer of the United States, in order to procure the release of certain bonds, the property of the bank, which bonds, the declaration alleged, were illegally and wrongfully withheld from the plaintiff by the defendant.

The plaintiff went into liquidation in the manner provided by law on the 23d of June, 1891, and on the 25th of August, 1891, deposited in the treasury of the United States lawful money to redeem its outstanding notes, as required by section 5222 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. After making such deposit, the bank demanded the bonds which had been deposited by it to secure its circulating notes, and of which defendant had possession as treasurer of the United States. The defendant refused to deliver them unless the bank would make a return of the average amount of its notes in circulation for the period from January 1, 1891, to the date when the deposit of money was made, viz. the 25th of August, 1891, and pay a tax thereon. The bank then made a return of the average amount of its notes in circulation for the period from January 1 to June 30, 1891, and paid to the defendant $56.25, protesting that he had no authority to demand the tax, and delivered to him a protest in writing, setting forth that, in making the return and in paying the tax, it did not admit the validity of the tax, or defendant's authority to exact or collect it, but made the return and payment solely for the purpose of procuring the possession of the United States bonds belonging to it, which defendant had refused to release until such return and payment were made, and further protesting that it was not liable to the tax, or any part of it. The bank's agent then made another demand upon defendant for the bonds; but he refused to deliver them until a return should be made of the average amount of its notes in circulation for the period from July 1 to August 25, 1891, and a tax paid thereon. Its agent then delivered such return to defendant, and paid him $16.83, at the same time delivering a written protest in the same form as the one above mentioned. These transactions were with the defendant himself, and the money was paid to him in person.

The journals of the house of representatives and senate of the United States for the first session of the Thirty-Eighth congress were put in evidence by plaintiff. The bank claims that these journals show that the national bank act originated as a bill in the house of representatives; that when it passed the house it contained no provision for a tax upon the national banks, or upon any corporation, or upon any individual, or upon any property, nor any provisions whatever for raising revenue; and that all the provisions that appear to authorize the treasurer of the United States to collect any tax on the circulating notes of national banks originated in the senate, by way of amendment to the house bill.

A witness on behalf of the defendant testified, against the objection of plaintiff, that the money paid by it to him was covered into the treasury, and applied to the payment of the semiannual duty or tax due from the bank. But it did not appear whether this was done before or after the present action was brought.

At the close of the evidence, counsel for the bank moved the court to direct the jury to return a verdict in its favor, which motion the court overruled, and counsel for the bank excepted. On motion of the defendant, the court instructed the jury to return a verdict for him. To that ruling of the court, counsel for plaintiff excepted.

Such is the case which the bank insists is made by the record.

The taxing provisions contained in the national bank act are found in its forty-first section. That section is as follows:

'The plates and special dies to be procured by the comptroller of the currency for the printing of such circulating notes shall remain under his control and direction, and the expenses necessarily incurred in executing the provisions of this act respecting the procuring of such notes, and all other expenses of the bureau, shall be paid out of the proceeds of the taxes or duties now or hereafter to be assessed on the circulation, and collected from associations organized under this act. And in lieu of all existing taxes, every association shall pay to the treasurer of the United States, in the months of January and July, a duty of one-half of one per centum each half year from and after the first day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-four, upon the average amount of its notes in circulation, and a duty of one-quarter of one per centum each half year upon the everage amount of its deposits, and a duty of one-quarter of one per centum each half year, as aforesaid, on the average amount of its capital stock beyond the amount invested in United States bonds; and in case of default in the payment thereof by any association, the duties aforesaid may be collected in the manner provided for the collection of United States duties of other corporations, or the treasurer may reserve the amount of said duties out of the interest, as it may become due, on the bonds deposited with him by such defaulting association. And it shall be the duty of each association, within ten days from the first days of January and July of each year, to make a return, under the oath of its president...

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