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U.S. Supreme Court

Hibernia Savings & Loan Society v. San Francisco, 200 U.S. 310 (1906)

Hibernia Savings & Loan Society v. San Francisco

No. 154

Submitted December 14, 1905

Decided January 29, 1906

200 U.S. 310


The principle that the states cannot tax official agencies of the federal government does not apply to obligations such as checks and warrants available for immediate use. A tax upon them is virtually a tax upon the money which can be drawn upon their presentation.

This was an action by the plaintiff in error, begun in the state superior court, to recover certain taxes paid under protest upon two checks or orders for $120,000 and $1,875, respectively, signed by the Treasurer of the United States, and addressed to the Treasurer or an Assistant Treasurer of the United States, for interest accrued upon certain registered bonds of the United States owned by the plaintiff. These checks were issued in compliance with Rev.Stat. § 3698, which requires that

"the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause to be paid, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, any interest falling due or accruing on any portion of the public debt authorized by law."

These checks,

Page 200 U. S. 311

which were payable at the United States Treasury at San Francisco at any time within four months from their date, were not presented immediately for payment, but were withheld by the plaintiff until the first Monday in March, 1899, the day when the status of property, for the purpose of taxation, is determined. Plaintiff did not list these two checks for assessment, but the assessor, in making up his roll for the ensuing year, included them, and, after a fruitless effort to be relieved from the assessment, plaintiff paid the amount of the tax, and brought this suit to recover it back. There were claims for other taxes included in the action, upon which plaintiff was successful, but, in respect to the tax upon the two orders above mentioned, judgment went for the defendant, which was affirmed by the supreme court. 139 Cal. 205.

Page 200 U. S. 313

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