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05/25/61 American Sales Company, v. District of Columbia

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT


May 25, 1961

AMERICAN SALES COMPANY, APPELLANT

v.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLEE.

Before BAZELON, BASTIAN and BURGER, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT. 1961.CDC.84

May 25, 1961.

PER CURIAM.

This case brings us another appeal under the District of Columbia tax laws and related regulations. It arises under certain sections which govern taxes on beverages. Appellant is a licensed distributor of beer at wholesale.

D.C.Code § 25-138 (Supp. VIII, 1960), provides that:

"(a) There shall be levied and collected by the District of Columbia on all beer sold by the holder of a manufacturer's or wholesaler's license, . . . a tax of $1.50 for every barrel containing not more than thirty-one gallons . . .. Unless the Commissioners shall by regulation prescribe otherwise, the collection and payment of such tax shall be in the manner following:

"(1) Each holder of a manufacturer's or wholesaler's license shall, on or before the 10th day of each month, furnish to the assessor of the District of Columbia, on a form to be prescribed by the Commissioners, a statement under oath showing the quantity of beer subject to taxation hereunder sold by him during the preceding calendar month." (Emphasis added.)

The Act also authorizes the Commissioners to prescribe regulations for other methods of assessment and collection of the tax if "such action is necessary to prevent frauds or evasions." D.C.Code § 25-138(b) (Supp. VIII, 1960). Purporting to act under this authority, by order No.

Appellant sued to recover a refund of that part of the tax levied which was paid on beer warehoused but not sold and for a refund on the tax collected on beer not sold because of breakage and inventory shortage. The District Court dismissed the complaint and this appeal is from the order of dismissal and the holding that the regulation was consistent with the statute.

The problems presented are the familiar ones of attempting to construe and apply the badly drawn taxing statutes of the District of Columbia, which give rise to numerous problems of interpretation for both administrators and courts.

We hold that the pertinent regulations taxing beer in the warehouse and before it is sold are not authorized by a statute which repeatedly refers to the tax as one "on all beer sold" and which prescribes monthly reports of beer "sold by him during the preceding calendar month." *fn1 Appellee argues that the statute in effect authorizes a tax comparable to the tax on wine and spiritous liquors. But that statute provides for a tax on such beverages "imported or brought into the District." D.C.Code § 25-124 (Supp. VIII, 1960). Congress has not provided for a like tax on beer, and hence the regulations adopted by the appellee are invalid insofar as they are levied on beer which has not been sold.

Reversed and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


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