This is a claim under the Acts of June 27, 1902, c. 1160, § 3, 32 Stat. 406, and of July 27, 1912, c. 256, 37 Stat. 240, to have refunded a tax collected under the Act of June 13, 1898, c. 448, § 29, 30 Stat. 448, 464, 465, upon legacies to the wife and children of the testator Dean Sage. The petition was dismissed by the Court of Claims on demurrer. The testator died domiciled in New York on June 23, 1902, so that the debts of the estate were not ascertained and, as decided in McCoach v. Pratt, 236 U.S. 562, the legacies were not "absolutely vested in possession or enjoyment" before July 1, 1902, and therefore by the terms of the Act of 1902 were not subject to the tax under the above mentioned § 29. A tax of $63,940.88 was collected, however, in June, 1903. On August 24, 1903, an application to have it refunded on the ground that the legacies were not subject to taxation under § 29 was made to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, but was denied in the following month. Two years later the petitioners sued the Collector and in May, 1912, got judgment for $30,275.49, with interest and costs, which was satisfied by the United States. McCoach v. Pratt, supra, and United States v. Jones, 236 U.S. 106, had not been decided at that time and it was held that some of the interests were vested in enjoyment. Ward v. Sage, 185 Fed. Rep. 7. This suit is for the unrepaid residue and was begun on January 23, 1917. The Government contends that the judgment and also the Act of July 27, 1912, c. 256, § 1, 37 Stat. 240, are bars to the present claim.
The former judgment is not a bar. It is true that the
The Act of July 27, 1912, after providing in § 1 for the presentation of claims for taxes erroneously collected under the above mentioned § 29, as stated in the preceding case of Coleman v. United States, ante, 30, directs repayment in § 2 to "such claimants as have presented or shall hereafter so present their claims," and establish them. The claimants had presented their claim, and so had complied with the letter of the act. But it is said that they filed it simply as a prerequisite to their suit against the Collector and that its effect was extinguished by the judgment in that suit. This argument reads into the words of the statute what is not there and reads what was there out of the claim. The claim was presented to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to get the money. The suit was only the undesired alternative in case the Commissioner rejected the claim. It plays no part in the question that we now are considering. Suppose that no suit had been brought we can see no ground for denying that the claim would have been presented within the meaning of the act. It did not have to be a claim under the act as the statute in terms contemplated that it might have been presented before the statute was passed. But if the presenting was sufficient before the suit was brought it is sufficient now. The statute of course does not confine its act of justice to unrejected claims.
The Act of 1912 applied in terms to "all claims for the refunding of any internal tax alleged to have been erroneously or illegally assessed or collected" under the above mentioned § 29. The only condition was that it should have been presented not later than January 1, 1914. Until that time no statute of limitations could begin to run.