Hoeninghaus v. United States

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Hoeninghaus v. United States by George Shiras, Jr.
Syllabus
Court Documents
Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

172 U.S. 622

HOENINGHAUS  v.  UNITED STATES

On September 15, 1897, Frederich Hoeninghaus and Henry W. Curtiss imported at the of New York certain woven fabrics in the piece, composed of silk and cotton. Such fabrics were provided for in paragraph 387, Schedule D of the tariff act of July 24, 1897, which contains an elaborate scheme of specific duties for goods of this character, the rates varying from 50 cents of $4.50 per pound, depending upon the weight of the fabric, the percentage of silk contained in it, its color, its mode of manufacture, ect.; and concludes with a provision which reads as follows: 'But in no case shall any of the foregoing fabrics in this paragraph pay a less rate of duty than 50 per centum ad valorem.'

The appraiser returned the merchandise as manufactures of silk and cotton in the gumsilk under 20 per cent.; and the collector assessed upon the merchandise a duty of 50 cents a pound, under the paragraph above mentioned. On the last item of the invoice the appraiser increased the valuation made in the invoice to make market value, thus making the appraised value exceed the value thereof declared in the entry. Thereupon the collector levied an additional duty of 1 per centum of the total appraised value for each 1 per centum that said appraised value exceeded the value declared on said item in the entry, under the provisions of section 32 of the act of July 24, 1897, which is in the following terms:

'That the owner, consignee, or agent of any imported merchandise which has been actually purchased, may, at the time when he shall make and verify his written entry of such merchandise, but not afterwards, make such addition to the entry to the cost or value given in the invoice or pro forma invoice or statement in form of an invoice, which he shall produce with his entry, as in his opinion may raise the same to the actual market value or wholesale price of such merchandise at the time of exportation to the United States in the principal markets of the country from which the same has been imported; but no such addition shall be made upon entry to the invoice val e of any imported merchandise obtained otherwise than by actual purchase; and the collector within whose district any merchandise may be imported or entered, whether the same has been actually purchased or procured otherwise than by purchase, shall cause the actual market value or wholesale price of such merchandise to be appraised; and if the appraised value of any article of imported merchandise subject to an ad valorem duty or to a duty based upon or regulated in any manner by the value thereof shall exceed the value declared in the entry, there shall be levied, collected and paid, in addition to the duties imposed by law on such merchandise, an additional duty of one per centum of the total appraised value thereof for each one per centum that such appraised value exceeds the value declared in the entry, but the additional duties only apply to the particular article or articles in each invoice that are so undervalued, and shall be limited to fifty per centum of the appraised value of such article or articles. Such additional duties shall not be construed to be penal and shall not be remitted, nor payment thereof in any way avoided, except in cases arising from a manifest clerical error, nor shall they be refunded in case of exportation of the merchandise, or on any other account, nor shall they be subject to the benefit of drawback: provided, that if the appraised value of any merchandise shall exceed the value declared in the entry by more than fifty per centum, except when arising from a manifest clerical error, such entry shall be held to be presumptively fraudulent, and the collector of customs shall seize such merchandise and proceed as in case of forfeiture for violation of the customs laws, and in any legal proceeding that may result from such seizure, the undervaluation as shown by the appraisal shall be presumptive evidence of fraud, and the burden of proof shall be on the claimant to rebut the same, and forfeiture shall be adjudged unless he shall rebut such presumption of fraudulent intent by sufficient evidence. The forfeiture provided for in this section shall apply to the whole of the merchandise or the value thereof in the case or package containing the particular article or articles in each invoice which are undervalued: provided, further, that all additional duties, penalties or forfeitures, applicable to merchandise entered by a duly certified invoice, shall be alike applicable to merchandise entered by a pro forma invoice or statement in the form of an invoice, and no forfeiture or disability of any kind incurred under the provisions of this section shall be remitted or mitigated by the secretary of the treasury. The duty shall not, however, be assessed in any case upon an amount less than the invoice or entered value.'

Thereupon the importers filed a protest, claiming that said merchandise, having regard either to its invoice, entered, or appraised value, was not subject to an ad valorem duty, or to a duty based upon or in any manner regulated by the value thereof, but, on the contrary, was subject only to a specific duty.

The board of general appraisers, under the provisions of section 14 of the act of June 10, 1890, affirmed the decision of the collector, and held that such goods were properly subject to the additional duty imposed under section 7 of the act of June 10, 1890, as amended by section 32 of the tariff act of July 24, 1897.

From this decision of the board of general appraisers the importers appealed to the circuit court of the United States for the Southern district of New York, and after, in pursuance of an order of said court, the board of general appraisers had made a return of the record and proceedings before them, that court affirmed the decision of the board of general appraisers. From the judgment of the circuit court an appeal was taken to the circuit court of appeals for the Second circuit, and that court thereupon certified to this court the following questions of law:

'First. Under the provisions of paragraph 387 of the act of July 24, 897, and section 7 of the act of June 10, 1890, as amended by section 32 of the act of July 24, 1897, was the merchandise in suit subject to an ad valorem duty, or to a duty based upon or regulated in any manner by the value thereof?

'Second. Did the additional duty of one per centum of the total appraised value of said merchandise for each one per centum that such appraised value exceeded the value declared in the entry, as applied to the particular article in said invoice undervalued as aforesaid, accrue according to the provisions of section 7 of the act of June 10, 1890, as amended by section 32 of the act of July 24, 1897?'

W. Wickham Smith, for appellants.

Sol. Gen. Richards, for the United States.

Mr. Justice SHIRAS, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

Notes[edit]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).