United States v. Habig

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Habig
LOCATION: Alamance County

DOCKET NO.: 107
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 390 US 222 (1968)
ARGUED: Jan 17, 1968
DECIDED: Mar 05, 1968

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Habig

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1968 in United States v. Habig

Earl Warren:

Number 107, United States, Appellant, versus Arnold Habig, et al.

Mr. Weinstein.

Harris Weinstein:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is here on an appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, dismissing two counts of a seven-count indictment brought under the revenue laws, dismissing on grounds of expiration of the statute of limitations.

The question here is on what date did the six-year statute of limitations apply to these two counts begin to run?

The choices are two; was it the date when the returns were in fact filed after the statutory deadline but during a period of extension granted by the Commissioner?

Or did the limitations period begin to run on the earlier date when the statutory deadline came?

The case arose in this manner.

It involves the tax returns -- these two counts involved the tax returns of two corporations, the Gordonsville Company and the Kimball Company.

Each was reporting its income on a fiscal year basis, reporting for the year ending with February so that the return due to be filed in 1960 related to the taxable year ending February 29, 1960.

Under the statute, those two corporate returns were due to be filed on May 15, 1960.

Instead of filing at that time, the two corporations asked for and obtained a three-month extension of time for filing until August 15, 1960.

Then on August 12 of that year, the Kimball return was filed.

Three days later on the extended deadline, August 15th, the Gordonsville return was filed.

The indictment was brought in on the sixth anniversary of the filing of the Kimball return on August 12, 1966.

If the statute began to run when the return was filed, the indictment relating to these two returns was timely, otherwise, it wasn't.

The indictment in seven counts has seven counts.

Each one relating to a corporate return filed on behalf of one of five corporations.

In Count 4, the one that relates to Gordonsville, it charges that the appellees attempted to evade and defeat tax due from Gordonsville by filing a false and fraudulent returns.

Count 6, the other one that was dismissed, relates to the Kimball return filed on August 1960.

It charges that the appellees falsely and fraudulently overstated Kimball's gross receipts in that return.

Abe Fortas:

Are there a lot of cases that present this pinpoint question?

Harris Weinstein:

In terms of when the statute begins to run, Mr. Justice Fortas?

Abe Fortas:

Yes.

Harris Weinstein:

Under the tax code sections, I'm aware of a handful and I'm only aware of three in addition to this case that we think are pertinent -- I beg your pardon, four.

One is the Hull case in the Fifth Circuit which is against us.

The others are the Doelker case and Alper case, I believe in the District Court --

Abe Fortas:

I know that but I meant that there are a lot of pending indictments which raised this question.

Harris Weinstein:

Our information of the importance of this as I recall is that there, I believe, we're told that approximately a dozen cases a year arise where the return was filed during extended period of time and the indictment is brought and after the sixth anniversary of the statutory due date.

Abe Fortas:

Because you would assume that the United States would somehow rather be able to spur the fact curiously and not so as to eliminate this question of six years in which to bring these actions.