court lacks jurisdiction herein since the claim exceeds the sum
of $10,000; and, in the alternative in the event jurisdiction is
found to exist, for a summary judgment in its favor.
Jurisdiction is alleged to exist under Section 1346(a)(1),
28 U.S.C.A. which provides that the district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of any action for the recovery of internal
revenue tax or penalties if the claim does not exceed $10,000 and
where the claim exceeds that amount when the collector of
internal revenue by whom said tax or penalty was collected is
dead or not in office when the action is commenced. The
government's motion to dismiss is predicated on the contention
that the first count of the complaint prays judgment for
$6,426.66 including interest for the year 1937 and the second
count prays judgment for $6,290.50 including interest for the
year 1938 resulting in a sum total of $12,717.16, including
interest. The total amount claimed being therefore in excess of
$10,000 the action cannot be maintained against the United States
since the collector who received the payment is still holding
office. It is also urged that the taxpayer had heretofore treated
his liability for the years 1937 and 1938 as one "unified and
integrated" matter and he cannot now split his claim and contend
that since his total liability for each year, taken separately,
is less than $10,000 that he may split his claim into two
component parts in order to meet the jurisdictional requirements.
Further, despite the requirement that each tax year stand on its
own footing and that a separate claim on the prescribed form be
filed for it, only one issue is in dispute which will affect both
years and the taxpayer could have stated his claim in one count
instead of two.
Two cases have been cited by the parties on this issue:
Sutcliffe Storage & Warehouse Co. v. United States, 1 Cir., 1947,
162 F.2d 849; and Oliver v. United States, 9 Cir., 1945,
149 F.2d 727, 728.
In the Oliver case, the Court of Appeals reversed an order of
the district court dismissing the claims for want of jurisdiction
where the action was for refund involving separate years, in no
one of which did the claims exceed $10,000, but the aggregate of
said claims for the several years did exceed that sum. In its
opinion holding that the district court had jurisdiction, the
"We are unable to see anything in the statute which
warrants the contention that Congress intended to
impose upon the small claimants, including taxpayers,
such an expensive procedural absurdity. Our whole
system for recovery of tax overpayments treats as a
separate unit the single calendar or fiscal tax year.
Heiner v. Mellon, 304 U.S. 271, 274 , 58 S.Ct.
926, 82 L. Ed. 1337, and cases cited. The term
`claim' is a statutory one for the recovery of taxes
illegally collected. 26 U.S.C. § 3772, 26 U.S.C.A.
Int. Rev.Code, § 3772. Nothing in our income tax law
considers a taxpayer as having a single aggregate
claim of his several claims for refunds for several
different tax years."
The Sutcliffe case, supra, involved compensation for the use of
the same real estate over different periods of time. The Court of
Appeals held [162 F.2d 852] that "there is no reason why a
plaintiff cannot make all his claims on a running account at one
time without piecemeal presentation" and held that the plaintiff
could not split his claims. It also made reference to the Oliver
case, supra, stating that it asserted no doctrine to the contrary