UNITED STATES V. KAHRIGER, 345 U. S. 22 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22 (1953)

United States v. Kahriger

No. 167

Argued December 16-17, 1952

Decided March 9, 1953

345 U.S. 22


Provisions of the Revenue Act of 1951, 26 U.S.C. §§ 3285-3294, levy an occupational tax of $50 per year on persons engaged in the business of accepting wagers; require such persons to register with the Collector of Internal Revenue, and penalize failure to pay the tax and to register.


1. The tax is a valid exercise of the federal taxing power, and is not unconstitutional as an infringement by the Federal Government on the police powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment. Pp. 345 U. S. 23-31.

(a) The fact that the tax has a regulatory effect upon wagering, and brings about a result that is beyond the direct legislative power of Congress, does not render it invalid. Pp. 345 U. S. 26-31.

(b) The registration requirements are valid as in aid of a revenue purpose. Pp. 345 U. S. 31-32.

2. The tax provisions do not contravene the privilege against self-incrimination guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 345 U. S. 31-33.

(a) The privilege against self-incrimination relates only to past acts, not to future acts that may or may not be committed. P. 345 U. S. 32.

(b) Under the registration provisions, a person subject to the tax is not compelled to confess to acts already committed; he is merely informed that, in order to engage in the business of wagering in the future, he must fulfill certain conditions. Pp. 345 U. S. 32-33.

3. The statute is not violative of the Due Process Clause on the ground that the classification is arbitrary because some wagering transactions are excluded, nor on the ground that the statutory definitions are vague. Pp. 345 U. S. 33-34.

105 F.Supp. 322 reversed.

An information charging appellee with willful failure to pay the occupational tax imposed by 26 U.S.C. § 3290 and to register therefor, as required by 26 U.S.C. § 3291, was dismissed by the District Court on the ground that

Page 345 U. S. 23

the statute was unconstitutional. 105 F.Supp. 322. The Government appealed directly to this Court under 18 U.S.C. § 3731. Reversed, p. 345 U. S. 34.

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