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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Henry Prentiss & Co., Inc., 288 U.S. 73 (1933)

United States v. Henry Prentiss & Co., Inc.

No. 234

Argued December 8, 9, 1932

Decided January 9, 1933

288 U.S. 73


1. A general claim for refund, though irregular in form under the Treasury Regulations, may be amended after the period of limitation by specifying the grounds, if the amendment is made before final rejection. United States v. Memphis Cotton Oil Co., ante p. 288 U. S. 62. P. 288 U. S. 83.

2. A statement, without explanation, to the effect that overpayments have been made in an aggregate amount is broad enough to cover any deviation from the normal statutory rule in making the computation or assessment. Id.

Page 288 U. S. 74

3. The taxpayer claimed a refund of income and excess profits taxes, assessed under § 326 of the Revenue Act 1918, upon the ground that, owing to abnormal conditions affecting its capital and income, there could be no fair appraisal of its property in accordance with that section, and that it should have the benefit of a special assessment under §§ 327(d) and 328, which provide for computation of the tax in such cases without reference to value of invested capital, by the ratio which the average tax of representative corporations engaged in a similar business bears to their average net income. Held, that the claim could not be turned by amendment into one for the revision of the assessment by increasing the value of real estate included in invested capital, and that a claim on that ground, coming after the time limited by statute for filing claims, was barred. Pp. 288 U. S. 81, 288 U. S. 83.

4. A request for a special assessment in accordance with § 327(d) of the Revenue Act, 1918, calls for discretionary, administrative action not ordinarily reviewable in court, and suggests no challenge of the valuation, or need of a revaluation, of invested capital. P. 288 U. S. 84.

5. Such an application so differs in essence and in its relation to administration from a claim based on undervaluation of the taxpayer's real estate capital in computing income and profits by the normal method of the statute that the two must be regarded as different claims or "causes of action," the one not amendable by the other, tested either by the analogies of pleading or by the necessities and realities of administrative practice. P. 288 U. S. 84.

6. Application for the special assessment being an appeal to discretion, a condition may reasonably be imposed that the inquiry shall be postponed until other and unrelated objections -- in this case, reassessment of invested capital -- have been either determined or abandoned. P. 288 U. S. 88.

7. The taxpayer in this case having elected to pursue its application for a special assessment after having been informed by the Commissioner that, by the Bureau's practice, the invested capital and net income must first be definitely determined, either by acquiescence in figures already reported or through an appeal, held equivalent to an agreement that the claim for a special assessment should be deemed to be a distinct one from that for a revision of the values, so that retraction, if ever possible, was too late when the statute of limitations had interposed its bar. P. 288 U. S. 87.

8. Whether this Court has jurisdiction on certiorari to review parts of a judgment adverse to the respondent although the respondent

Page 288 U. S. 75

has neither secured nor applied for a writ of certiorari, will not be decided where, assuming the existence of the power, the case does not impel its exercise. P. 288 U. S. 88.

57 F.2d 676 reversed.

Certiorari to review the reversal in part of a judgment recovered by the present respondent in a suit against the United States based on overpayments of income and excess profits taxes.

Page 288 U. S. 79

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