Hoover Motor Express Company, Inc. v. United States

PETITIONER: Hoover Motor Express Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 95
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 38 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 29, 1958 / Jan 30, 1958
DECIDED: Mar 17, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Hoover Motor Express Company, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 30, 1958 in Hoover Motor Express Company, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 29, 1958 in Hoover Motor Express Company, Inc. v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 95, Hoover Motor Express Company, Incorporated versus United States of America, and number 109, Tank Truck Rentals, Incorporated versus Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Mr. Harwood.

Judson Harwood:

Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices.

In view of the fact that these two cases have been consolidated, would I be out of order to ask a question, shall we argue currently and, I understand the Court will adjourn at 4:30.

Earl Warren:

Yes.

Judson Harwood:

And I naturally would prefer not to use all of my argument today in -- if the case is going to be concluded tomorrow.

I don't know what order in which the Court would want to hear the argument of the case as I understand I have 25 minutes, or 24 minutes to go.

Earl Warren:

Well, I don't understand your question.

You --

Judson Harwood:

Would I be permitted for my half of it to reserve --

Earl Warren:

You may reserve what --

Judson Harwood:

-- a substantial portion of my argument.

Earl Warren:

-- whatever portion of your time.

Judson Harwood:

Or a rebuttal particularly in view of the fact --

Earl Warren:

Yes.

Judson Harwood:

-- if the cases will go until tomorrow.

Earl Warren:

You may -- you may reserve what portion of your time you wish after stating your case.

Judson Harwood:

If it please the Court, this is a case for the recovery of corporate income taxes.

The petitioner here is a motor carrier of freight and it holds a license from the Interstate Commerce Commission and operates pursuant to certificates issued by the Commission.

In the industry, it's referred to as a draft freight or general commodity carrier, that is that it carries in -- in all commodities tendered to it by the public with a few exceptions such as articles and book and things of that nature.

The years involved or for the years 1951, 1952 and 1953, the question here insofar as this case is concerned is strictly a legal question and it was not necessary to bring to this Court or to the Court of Appeals any of the record below except the technical record.

In 1942, the Commission of Internal Revenue promulgated a regulation or an interpretation.

The effect of which was to permit a motor carrier to deduct under Section 23 (a) of the Revenue Act sums that it was required to pay to various States because its vehicles had in some way violated the weight limitation laws of the States.

That ruling was -- remained in effect until December 1, 1950.

At that time, the Commissioner, and I might say a new or different Commissioner of Internal Revenue, reversed the earlier ruling and held that such sums were not deductible as ordinary and necessary expenses under Section 23 (a) of the -- the Revenue Act.

As a result of that latter interpretation, the agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue audited the tax returns for the petitioner, Hoover, for the years 1951, 1952 and 1953.

And insofar as we are here concerned, the only change was that certain sums paid by the petitioner as fines under the various statutes of the various States through which it operated, were disallowed as an operating expense, an additional tax was assessed against petitioner by reason of the disallowance of these items which had been claimed as expenses.

The petitioner paid the additional tax, filed a claim for refund which as you know is a prerequisite to a suit for recovery.

When the claim for refund was denied, a suit for recovery was filed in the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The case was there tried, evidence was introduced and the Court decided the case adversely to the contentions of petitioner.