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SWAN & FINCH CO. V. UNITED STATES, 190 U. S. 143 (1903)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swan & Finch Co. v. United States, 190 U.S. 143 (1903)

Swan and Finch Co. v. United States

No. 268

Argued April 22-23, 1903

Decided May 18, 1903

190 U.S. 143


The placing on board vessels in the United States and bound for foreign ports of lubricating oils manufactured from imported rape seed on which duty has been paid and which oils are for use in, and to be consumed by the vessels is not such an exportation of the oils as entitles the sellers to drawbacks under § 22 of the Act of August 28, 1894, reenacted as § 30 of the Act of July 27, 1897.

This has been the uniform construction of the department charged with the execution of the statute.

Where the burden is placed upon the citizen, if there be a doubt it must be resolved in favor of the citizen; but as the right to drawbacks is a privilege granted by the government any doubt as to the construction of the statute must be resolved in favor of the government.

Section 22 of the Act of August 27, 1894, 28 Stat. 509, 551, reenacted as section 30 of the Act of July 24, 1897, 30 Stat. 211, is as follows:

"SEC. 22. That where imported materials on which duties have been paid are used in the manufacture of articles manufactured or produced in the United States, there shall be allowed on the exportation of such articles a drawback equal in amount to the duties paid on the materials used, less one percentum of such duties: Provided, That when the articles exported are made in part from domestic materials the imported materials, or the parts of the articles made from such materials, shall so appear in the completed articles that the quantity or measure thereof may be ascertained: And provided further, That the drawback on any article allowed under existing law shall be continued at the rate herein provided. That the imported materials used in the manufacture or production of articles entitled to drawback of customs duties when exported shall, in all cases where drawback of duties paid on such materials is claimed, be identified, the quantity of such materials used and the amount of duties paid thereon shall be ascertained, the facts of the manufacture or production of such articles in

Page 190 U. S. 144

the United States and their exportation therefrom shall be determined, and the drawback due thereon shall be paid to the manufacturer, producer, or exporter, to the agent of either, or to the person to whom such manufacturer, producer, exporter, or agent shall in writing order such drawback paid, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe."

During the years 1895, 1896, 1897, the appellant, a corporation engaged in business as importer, manufacturer, and exporter of oils at New York City and elsewhere in the United States, having used in the manufacture of certain kinds of lubricating oils imported rape seed oil on which duties had been paid, placed on board of vessels bound for foreign ports, lubricating oils so manufactured, and claimed a drawback of the duties paid on the imported rape seed oil used therein. The Treasury Department allowed and paid the drawback on such manufactured oils as were shipped to foreign countries and there relanded, but refused to pay any on such as were placed on board for use and consumed in use on the vessels. The appellant brought this suit in the Court of Claims to recover the drawbacks on the last-named oils. That court decided against it, 37 Ct.Cl. 101, and from such decision, this appeal was taken.

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