The Collector v. Doswell & Company
ERROR to the Circuit Court for the District of Louisiana.
The ninth section of the act of July 13th, 1866, to reduce internal taxation, and to amend the internal revenue laws, [*] declares, among other things, that there shall be paid monthly on all sales by commercial brokers of any goods, wares, or merchandise, a tax of one-twentieth of one per cent. on the amount of said sales, and on or before the tenth day of each month every commercial broker shall make a list or return to the assessor of the district of the gross amount of such sales, as aforesaid, for the preceding month; provided, that, in estimating such sales of goods, wares, and merchandise, for the purpose of this section, any sales made by or through another broker, upon which a tax had been paid, shall not be estimated and included as sold by the broker for whom the sale was made.
Doswell & Co., cotton brokers of New Orleans, having paid a tax assessed against them under this statute, and made in vain an appeal to the commissioner of internal revenue to get back the money paid, brought this suit against the collector, to whom they had paid it.
On the trial an agreed statement of facts was submitted to the court, by which it appeared that the plaintiffs did not sell any cotton or other goods, but limited themselves to making purchases for those who required their services; that the money was paid by their principals directly to the parties who made the sales, and that their compensation for making the purchases was one-half of one per cent. paid by the buyer, and one-fourth of one per cent. by the seller, under a custom of the trade in New Orleans, established when cotton brokers were sellers as well as buyers, and kept up, though they were so no longer.
The case agreed on further showed that a tax on all the sales for which the plaintiffs were assessed, had been paid by the parties making the sales.
The court below gave judgment for the plaintiff, and the record of that judgment the government now brought here for review.
Mr. G. H. Williams, Attorney-General, and Mr. S. F. Phillips, Solicitor-General, for the collector, plaintiff in error, submitted the case on a statement of it, and without argument.
Mr. Frederick Chase, contra.
Mr. Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.
^* 14 Stat. at Large, 134.