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The United States, by various acts of Congress, have consented to be sued in their own courts in certain classes of cases; but they have never consented to be sued in the courts of a State in any case. (Stanley v. Schwalby, 162 U. S., 255.)
The United States have never, either by the act of March 3, 1887, or by any other law, permitted themselves to be sued for torts committed by their officers. (Hill v. United States, 149 U. S., 593.)
A court of claims was created by the act of February 24, 1855 (sec. 1049). Cases arising under the revenue laws not within the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims. (Nichols v. United States, 7 Wall., 129.)
Jurisdiction of the Court of Claims. “The Judicial Code” (act of March 3, 1911, sec. 145, 36 Stat., 1087).
Section 1063, as to head of Department transmitting claims to the Court of Claims. (Hart v. United States, 15 Ct. Cls., 414; United States v. New York, 160 U. S., 598.)
Secretary can not legally by departmental order change a practice or course of office prescribed by statute for settlement of accounts. (19 Op. Atty. Gen., 177.)
Power of Auditor and Comptroller stated. (Waters v. United States, 21 Ct.
The rule that a final decision upon a knowledge of all the facts made by an officer authorized to decide on claims against the Government is not liable to be reopened and reviewed by his successor in office unless the decision is founded on mistakes in matters of fact arising from errors in calculation, or the absence of material testimony afterwards discovered and produced, is well established. (U. S. v. Bank of Metropolis, 15 Pet., 377; Rollins and Presbrey v. U. S., 23 Ct. Cls., 123.)
Attorney General Taney said: “For if a final decision, upon a knowledge of all the facts, made by an officer authorized to decide on claims against the Government, is liable to be opened and reviewed by his successor in office, every change in the officer will produce a new hearing of the claim, and the accounts of the Government will always remain open and unsettled.” (2 Op: Atty. Gen., 464; see also 14 Op. Atty. Gen., 275; 18 Int. Rev. Rec., 28, and cases there cited; also 13 Op. Atty. Gen., 388, 457.)
When an account has once been adjusted by the accounting officers, it can not be reopened unless relief is afforded by special act. (4 Op. Atty. Gen., 378; 12 id., 386.)
A decision in the Court of Claims, while it is not binding, is authority for the head of a department to reopen a case. (9 Op. Atty. Gen. (Black), 422.)
The accounting officers of the Treasury are not authorized to reopen accounts for the purpose of correcting decisions upon questions of law subsequently held to be erroneous. (VI Comp. Dec., 91.)
The principle of res adjudicata applies to departmental action of a final nature. (20 Op. Atty. Gen., 280; XI Comp. Dec., 459, 676.)
New evidence discovered. (IX Comp. Dec., 107.)
Not the duty of a head of department to make estimates for appropriations to pay claims which the law does not provide for. (Pitman et al. v. United States, 20 Ct. Cls., 253.)
Accounting officers can not revise judgments of court. (O'Grady v. United States, 22 Wall., 641.)
Subpænas to witnesses in matters relating to claims.
Sec. 184. Any head of a Department or Bureau in which a claim against the United States is properly pending may apply to any judge or clerk of any court of the United States, in any State, District, or Territory, to issue a subpæna for a witness being within the jurisdiction of such court, to appear at a time and place in the subpæna stated, before any officer authorized to take depositions to be used in the courts of the United States, there to give full and true answers to such written interrogatories and cross-interrogatories as may be submitted with the application, or to be orally examined and crossexamined upon the subject of such claim.
No payment to person in arrears to the United States.
SEC. 1766. No money shall be paid to any person for his compensation who is in arrears to the United States, until he has accounted for and paid into the Treasury all sums for which he may be liable. In all cases where the pay or salary of any person is withheld in pursuance of this section, the accounting officers of the Treasury, if required to do so by the party, his agent or attorney, shall report forth with to the Solicitor of the Treasury the balance due; and the Solicitor shall, within sixty days thereafter, order suit to be commenced against such delinquent and his sureties.
Set-offs. (Bonnafon's case, 14 Ct. Cls., 484; Taggart's case, 17 Ct. Cls., 322; 28 Int. Rev. Rec., 162; 17 Op. Atty. Gen., 677; McKnight v. United States, 98 U. S., 179.)
Money offered in compromise can not be set off against taxes assessed. (Boughton v. United States, 13 Ct. Cls., 284.)
Money due to an employee of the Government, and in the hands of a disbursing officer, can not be attached by a process issued from a State court. (10 Op. Atty. Gen., 120.)
Meaning and scope of Sec. 1766, where a clerk is a judgment debtor of the United States. (26 Op. Atty. Gen., 77.)
Deduction of debt due the United States from any judgment recovered or claim allowed.
[Act of Mar. 3, 1875 (18 Stat., 481).] That when any final judgment recovered against the United States or other claim duly allowed by legal authority, shall be presented to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment, and the plaintiff or claimant therein shall be indebted to the United States in any manner, whether as principal or surety, it shall be the duty of the Secretary to withhold payment of an amount of such judgment or claim equal to the debt thus due to the United States; and if such plaintiff or claimant assents to such set-off, and discharges his judgment or an amount thereof equal to said debt or claim, the Secretary shall execute a discharge of the debt due from the plaintiff to the United States.
But if such plaintiff, or claimant, denies his indebtedness to the United States, or refuses to consent to the set-off, then the Secretary shall withhold payment of such further amount of such judgment, or claim, as in his opinion will be sufficient to cover all legal charges and costs in prosecuting the debt of the United States to final judgment.
And if such debt is not already in suit, it shall be the duty of the Secretary to cause legal proceedings to be immediately commenced to enforce the same, and to cause the same to be prosecuted to final judgment with all reasonable dispatch.
And if in such action judgment shall be rendered against the United States, or the amount recovered for debt and costs shall be less than the amount so withheld as before provided, the balance shall then be paid over to such plaintiff by such Secretary with six per cent interest thereon for the time it has been withheld from the plaintiff.
As to interest, see Stephani's case (26 Int. Rev. Rec., 314), and section 966,
Suits of United States against Individuals; what credits allowed.
SEC. 951. In suits brought by the United States against individuals, no claim for a credit shall be admitted, upon trial, except such as appear to have been presented to the accounting officers of the Treasury, for their examination, and to have been by them disallowed, in whole or in part, unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant is, at the time of the trial, in possession of vouchers not before in his power to procure, and that he was prevented from exhibiting a claim for such credit at the Treasury by absence from the United States or by some unavoidable accident.
Section 957, page 414.
United States v. Kimball (101 U.S. (11 Otto), 725); Western Union Railroad Co. v. United States (101 U. S., 543; 26 Int. Rev. Rec., 165).
In an action by the United States to recover an alleged debt, the defendant can not recover an affirmative judgment against the Government on a counter claim, although it may be determined that there is a balance due him. (U.S. v. Gillies, 144 Fed. Rep., 991; U. S. v. Pierson, 145 Fed. Rep., 814.)
Priority of United States in insolvent estates.
Sec. 3466. Whenever any person indebted to the United States is insolvent, or whenever the estate of any deceased debtor, in the hands of the executors or administrators, is insufficient to pay all the debts due from the deceased, the debts due to the United States shall be first satisfied; and the priority hereby established shall extend as well to cases in which a debtor, not having sufficient property to pay all his debts, makes a voluntary assignment thereof, or in which the estate and effects of an absconding, concealed, or absent debtor are attached by process of law, as to cases in which an act of bankruptcy is committed.
Lewis, trustee, v. United States. (92 U.S., 618; 22 Int. Rev. Rec., 186.)
Act of July 1, 1898 (30 Stat., 544-566), to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States, amended by act of July 1, 1898; acts of February 5, 1903, June 15, 1906, and June 25, 1910.
Debts which have priority. (Sec. 64, act of July 1, 1898.) A discharge in bankruptcy does not release a bankrupt from taxes due. (Sec. 17, act of July 1, 1898.).
The right of the United States to priority of payment does not extinguish or supersede a specific lien. (United States v. Duncan, 4 McLean, 607; 9 Op. Atty. Gen., 28.)
The right to priority is not a lien upon the debtor's property, but a right to receive payment out of the general estate or funds of the debtor before other claims are satisfied. (United States v. Eggleston, 23 Int. Rev. Rec., 113.)
Procedure in case of property assessed in hands of receiver. (T. D. 667.)
Liability of Executors, etc., to United States.
SEC. 3467. Every executor, administrator, or assignee, or other person,
who pays any debt due by the person or estate from whom or for which he acts, before he satisfies and pays the debts due to the United States from such person or estate, shall become answerable in his own person and estate for the debts so due to the United States, or for so much thereof as may remain due and unpaid.
The priority of the United States, under the provisions of sections 3466 and 3467, R.S., extends to all classes of debts, and to all the debtor's estate which comes to the hands of his assignee. The assignee becomes a trustee for the United States, and, when he has notice of the debt due the Government, he can not escape personal liability for the amount of it, to the extent of the value of the assets coming to his hands, if he fails to provide for it before making distribution to other creditors. (United States v. Barnes, 31 Fed. Rep., 705.)
Permanent annual appropriations. Sec. 3689. There are appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purposes hereinafter specified, such sums as may be necessary for the same respectively; and such appropriations shall be deemed permanent annual appropriations.
Refunding moneys erroneously received and covered:
To refund moneys received and covered into the Treasury before the payment of legal and just charges against the same.
Allowances and drawbacks (internal revenue):
Indefinite appropriation to pay allowance or drawback on articles on which any internal duty or tax shall have been paid when said articles are exported under the act of July one, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, chapter one hundred and nineteen (section three thousand four hundred and forty-one). See as to appropriation to pay drawback on tobacco, section 3386, page
276. No appropriation is made for paying drawback on stills allowable under act of
March 1, 1879.
To refund and pay back duties erroneously or illegally assessed or collected under the internal-revenue laws.
Redemption of stamps (internal revenue):
be necessary to repay
the amount or value paid for internal-revenue stamps which may have been spoiled, destroyed, or rendered useless or unfit for the purpose intended, or which through mistake may have been improperly or unnecessarily used.
Application of moneys appropriated.
SEC. 3678. All sums appropriated for the various branches of expenditure in the public service shall be applied solely to the objects for which they are respectively made, and for no others.
No expenditures in excess of appropriations—Penalty for violation. SEC. 3679 [as amended by sec. 4, act of Mar. 3, 1905, and act of Feb. 27, 1906, sec. 3 (34 Stat., 49) (urgent deficiency appropriation act)). No Executive Department or other Government establishment of the United States shall expend, in any one fiscal year, any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or involve the Government in any contract or other obligation for the future payment of money in excess of such appropriations unless such contract or obligation is authorized by law. Nor shall any Department or any officer of the Government accept voluntary service for the Government or employ personal service in excess of that authorized by law, except in cases of sudden emergency involving the loss of human life or the destruction of property. All appropriations made for contingent expenses or other general purposes, except appropriations made in fulfillment of contract obligations expressly authorized by law, or for objects required or authorized by law without reference to the amounts annually appropriated therefor, shall, on or before the beginning of each fiscal year, be so apportioned by monthly or other allotments as to prevent expenditures in one portion of the year which may necessitate deficiency or additional appropriations to complete the service of the fiscal year for which said appropriations are made; and all such apportionments shall be adhered to and shall not be waived or modified except upon the happening of some extraordinary emergency or unusual circumstance which could not be anticipated at the time of making such apportionment, but this provision shall not apply to the contingent appropriations of the Senate or House of Representatives; and in case said apportionments are waived or modified as herein provided, the same shall be waived or modified in writing by the head of such Executive Department or other Government establishment having control of the expenditure, and the reasons therefor shall be fully set forth in each particular case and communicated to Congress in connection with estimates for any additional appropriations required on account thereof. Any person violating any provision of this section shall be summarily removed from office and may also be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not less than one month.
SEC. 9. (Act of June 30, 1906 (34 Stat., 764) (sundry civil appropriation act).] No act of Congress hereafter passed shall be construed to make an appropriation out of the Treasury of the United States, or to authorize the execution of a contract involving the payment of money in excess of appropriations made by law, unless such Act shall in specific terms declare an appropriation to be made or that a contract may be executed.
By the act of July 7, 1884, deficiency appropriation act (23 Stat., 254), the Secretary of the Treasury is required to report to Congress at the commencement of each session amount due claimants upon claims allowed in whole or in part.
Unauthorized contracts prohibited.
SEC. 3732. No contract or purchase on behalf of the United States shall be made, unless the same is authorized by law, or is under an appropriation adequate to its fulfillment, except in the War and Navy Departments, for clothing, subsistence, forage, fuel, quarters, or transportation, which, however, shall not exceed the necessities of the cur
19 Op. Atty. Gen., 650.
Expenditure of balances of appropriations. SEC. 3690. All balances of appropriations contained in the annual appropriation bills, and made specifically for the service of any fiscal year, and remaining unexpended at the expiration of such fiscal year, shall only be applied to the payment of expenses properly incurred during that year, or to the fulfillment of contracts properly made within that year; and balances not needed for such purposes shall be carried to the surplus fund. This section, however, shall not apply to appropriations known as permanent or indefinite appropriations.
Department Circular No. 133, dated December 15, 1903, requires that all unexpended balances of annual appropriations be deposited to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States as soon as practicable after the expiration of the fiscal year for which they were made.
Unexpended balances of appropriations after two years to be covered into Treasury.
[3690a.) Sec. 5. (Act of June 20, 1874 (18 Stat., 110).] That · from and after the first day of July, eighteen hundred and seventyfour, and of each year thereafter, the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause all unexpended balances of appropriations which shall have