United States v. Strebler

Decision Date15 February 1963
Docket NumberNo. 17088.,17088.
Citation313 F.2d 402
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellant, v. Joseph X. STREBLER, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Stephen B. Wolfberg, Atty., Tax Division, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., made argument for appellant and Louis F. Oberdorfer, Asst. Atty. Gen., Washington, D. C., Lee A. Jackson, George F. Lynch, and Stephen B. Wolfberg, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., together with D. Jeff Lance, U. S. Atty., St. Louis, Mo., were on the brief.

Joseph X. Strebler, appellee was not represented by counsel and did not file brief.

Before VOGEL, BLACKMUN and RIDGE, Circuit Judges.

RIDGE, Circuit Judge.

Appellee, as president of Strebler and Landvatter, Inc., executed on behalf of that corporation and filed with the Collector of Internal Revenue at St. Louis, Missouri, an "Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return" (U.S. Treasury Form 941) showing a tax liability on the part of the corporation of $14,593.40, for Income and Social Security Taxes withheld from its employees' wages for the quarter ending December 31, 1950. Concededly, the corporation at that time had sufficient funds in its bank account with which to pay the entire amount of the taxes due the Government as shown by that return, but not sufficient money in the bank to pay all its other current obligations. Therefore, appellee sent a check to the District Collector of Internal Revenue for only $2,593.40, along with the above quarterly return. Subsequently other payments made in respect to the above return reduced the amount due the Government thereon to $7,288.46.

On February 23, 1954, the District Director made a personal assessment of tax against appellee in the above amount pursuant to the provisions of § 2707(a) and (d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939. Appellee failing to pay such assessment, the instant action was commenced to enforce collection thereof. Appellee demanded a jury trial which resulted in a verdict in his favor. It is from the judgment entered on such verdict that the Government prosecutes the instant appeal, claiming error on the part of the District Court for denying its motion for a directed verdict and motion for judgment in its favor notwithstanding the verdict.1

It is the Government's primary contention that in the light of appellee's own testimony and other uncontradicted evidence adduced at the trial of this case, establishing that appellee was the responsible person who had the duty to pay over the F.I.C.A. and Income Taxes withheld by Strebler and Landvatter, Inc. from its employees' wages, (2707(a) and (d) I.R.C.1939) and that his failure to do so was "willful",2 the District Court erred in entering judgment on the verdict of the jury as returned. A secondary point raised relates to claim of error in the giving of instructions by the District Court which the Government asserts compels granting it a new trial if the contention as to its n. o. v. motion is not sustained. Ruling on the latter matter is pretermitted in light of the disposition hereinafter made of this appeal.

Appellee in the case at bar has not favored us with any brief or record in addition to that filed by the Government. He personally appeared at oral argument and simply stated: * * * "I rely on the jury's verdict!" Hence we have been called upon to search the printed record on appeal for some evidence which appellee might claim to sustain his verdict. After carefully doing so, we are of the opinion that no substantial evidence can be found in the record before us to sustain the verdict.

At the trial of the case at bar the Government introduced evidence by way of a "Certificate of Assessment" which revealed appellee's liability for the amount of taxes claimed. The law is that such assessment is presumptively correct; and "the burden is on the taxpayer to overcome this presumption" by countervailing proof. Paschal v. Blieden, 127 F.2d 398, 401 (8 Cir., 1942) and cases therein cited. Accord, United States v. Rindskopf, 105 U.S. 418, 26 L.Ed. 1131; Niles Bement Pond Co. v. United States, 281 U.S. 357, 50 S.Ct. 251, 74 L.Ed. 901 (1930); Lewis v. Reynolds, 284 U.S. 281, 52 S.Ct. 145, 76 L.Ed. 293.

Appellee did not adduce any evidence contesting the amount of the assessment as made, nor the Government's assertion that failure of the party responsible to pay over the amount of taxes withheld was not "willful". His sole contention at the trial was that he was not the officer or employee of the corporation who was under a duty to pay over the withheld Income and F.I.C.A. Taxes in question. Appellee, solely by oral testimony, sought to prove that, at the time the Company failed to pay over the taxes, one John Kirk (who was the president of a bank that was one of the company's principal creditors), along with the bookkeeper, Frank X. Muehlbauer, in the employ of Strebler and Landvatter, Inc., were the ones who made the financial decisions as to which bills due and owing by that company were to be paid and when. It was on that singular oral assertion by appellee that control of that company's financial affairs was in others, that he sought to avoid the tax obligations here in question. This notwithstanding the by-laws of Strebler and Landvatter, Inc. established it was appellee's duties as "president (and) chief executive of the corporation (who was to) have general supervision over the general policy, affairs and finances of the corporation" and all the other competent evidence in the record established that he personally exercised such authority and control of that company's financial affairs.

Particularly, it was established without contradiction that appellee, as President of that corporation, and his wife, as Secretary thereof, were persons authorized to jointly sign checks on the company's bank account. Further, it was uncontradicted that when the "Form 941" return, supra, was prepared by the company's bookkeeper appellee took it from the bookkeeper and said to him: "I'll handle this, personally." Concededly, appellee signed that "Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return" and mailed or caused it to be mailed, along with a check to the District Director of Internal Revenue for only a part of the tax due. He signed all tax returns made by the company. He personally negotiated financial loans made to Strebler and Landvatter, Inc. The only inference from the record here is that he was...

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  • Egbert v. US
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Wyoming
    • December 2, 1990
    ...of a valid assessment. United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 440, 96 S.Ct. 3021, 3025, 49 L.Ed.2d 1046 (1976); United States v. Strebler, 313 F.2d 402, 403 (8th Cir.1963); United States v. Chila, 871 F.2d 1015 (11th Cir.1989). Once the Certificate of Assessment reveals the taxpayer's liabil......
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    • August 4, 2008
    ...Chila, 871 F.2d 1015, 1018 (11th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 975, 110 S.Ct. 498, 107 L.Ed.2d 501 (1989); United States v. Strebler, 313 F.2d 402, 403-404 (8th Cir.1963); United States v. Dixon, 672 F.Supp. 503, 506 (M.D.Ala.1987), aff'd without published opinion, 849 F.2d 1478 (11th H......
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    • March 21, 2000
    ...States v. Rexach, 482 F.2d 10, 17 (1st Cir.1973); Psaty v. United States, 442 F.2d 1154, 1159-60 (3d Cir.1971); United States v. Strebler, 313 F.2d 402, 403-04 (8th Cir.1963); United States v. Klimek, 952 F.Supp. 1100, 1110-111 (E.D.Pa.1997); Mauro, 243 F.Supp. at 415. The taxpayer's genera......
  • US v. Red Stripe, Inc.
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    ...Lease, 346 F.2d 696, 700 (2d Cir. 1965); United States v. Paladin, 539 F.Supp. 100, 102 (W.D.N.Y.1982). See also United States v. Strebler, 313 F.2d 402, 403-04 (8th Cir.1963): At the trial of the case at bar the Government introduced evidence by way of a "Certificate of Assessment" which r......
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