CORNELL V. COYNE, 192 U. S. 418 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cornell v. Coyne, 192 U.S. 418 (1904)

Cornell v. Coyne

No. 113

Argued January 18-19, 1904

Decided February 23, 1904

192 U.S. 418


The prohibition in the Constitution against taxes or duties on exports attaches to exports as such, and does not relieve articles manufactured for export from the prior ordinary burdens of taxation which rest upon all property similarly situated.

In construing a statute, the title is referred to only in cases of doubt and ambiguity, and where doubt exists as to the meaning of a statute in regard to a privilege claimed from the government thereunder, it should be resolved in favor of the government.

The fact that a quantity of "filled cheese" was manufactured expressly for export does not exempt it from the tax imposed by the Act of June 6, 1896, 29 Stat. 253, and the reference in that act to the provisions of existing laws governing the engraving, issue, etc., of stamps relating to tobacco and snuff, and making them applicable to stamps used for taxes on filled cheese as far as possible, does not relate to stamps issued without cost for tobacco and snuff manufactured for export.

On June 6, 1896, Congress passed an act, 29 Stat. 253, entitled "An Act Defining Cheese, and Also Imposing a Tax Upon and Regulating the Manufacture, Sale, Importation and Exportation of Filled Cheese.'" Section 2 defines "filled cheese." Section 3 directs that "manufacturers of filled cheese shall pay four hundred dollars for each and every factory, per annum." Section 6 provides for the stamping and branding of the wooden packages in which manufacturers are required to pack filled cheese, and that

"all sales or consignments made by manufacturers of filled cheese to wholesale dealers in filled cheese

Page 192 U. S. 419

or to exporters of filled cheese shall be in original stamped packages."

Sections 9 and 11 are as follows:

"SEC. 9. That, upon all filled cheese which shall be manufactured, there shall be assessed and collected a tax of one cent per pound, to be paid by the manufacturer thereof, and any fractional part of a pound in a package shall be taxed as a pound. The tax levied by this section shall be represented by coupon stamps, and the provisions of existing laws governing the engraving, issue, sale, accountability, effacement, and destruction of stamps relating to tobacco and snuff, as far as applicable, are hereby made to apply to stamps provided for by this section."

"SEC. 11. That all filled cheese as herein defined imported from foreign countries shall, in addition to any import duty imposed on the same, pay an internal revenue tax of eight cents per pound, such tax to be represented by coupon stamps, and such imported filled cheese and the packages containing the same shall be stamped, marked, and branded, as in the case of filled cheese manufactured in the United States."

Plaintiffs in error were manufacturers of filled cheese, entered into contracts for its manufacture and export, and under such contracts manufactured and exported 1,580,479 pounds of filled cheese. They were required by the defendant in error, as collector, to purchase and affix stamps to the exported packages of filled cheese. They protested against such required purchase, and applied to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, as authorized by section 3226, Rev.Stat., for a return of the various sums so paid, but their application was rejected. Thereupon they commenced this action in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois. In the declaration, they alleged

"that the requirements of the said defendant, whereby the plaintiffs were compelled in the manner aforesaid, to purchase and use the said revenue stamps, were wholly unauthorized and unwarranted by law, and that section 9, of the act of Congress aforesaid, and said act itself in that the same failed to contain provisions whereby filled cheese

Page 192 U. S. 420

manufactured for export trade and exported and sold in foreign markets wholly without the United States might be exported and sold free from the levy of any duty or tax thereon; or provision whereby the same might be freed from the force and effect of said act, are repugnant to said Section 9, Article I, of the Constitution of the United States, and that this suit therefore involves the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States."

A demurrer to the declaration was sustained. They elected to stand by the declaration. Judgment was entered in favor of the defendant, and thereupon this writ of error was sued out.

Page 192 U. S. 426

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