A-26688, APRIL 24, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 559

A-26688: Apr 24, 1929

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IF THE VEHICLE IS RETAINED FOR USE IN THE CUSTOMS SERVICE. IF THE LIEN IS NOT ALLOWED BY THE COURT IT MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION. FOR OTHER PURPOSES" IT IS PROVIDED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR DEFRAYING THE EXPENSES OF COLLECTING REVENUE FROM CUSTOMS OR FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF MAINTENANCE. IT IS FURTHER PROVIDED THAT SAID APPROPRIATIONS SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF ANY LIEN ALLOWED BY THE COURT IF SEIZURE IS MADE UNDER ANY SECTION OF LAW UNDER WHICH LIENS ARE RECOGNIZED. YOUR OPINION IS SOLICITED ON THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THIS PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION OF A LIEN HELD BY A CLAIMANT ON AN AUTOMOBILE UNDER A CONDITIONAL SALES AGREEMENT WHEN SAID AUTOMOBILE IS SEIZED AND FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS REVENUE LAWS.

A-26688, APRIL 24, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 559

VEHICLES - SEIZURE UNDER CUSTOMS LAWS - LIENS UPON THE SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE OF AN AUTOMOBILE UNDER THE CUSTOMS LAWS THE LIEN OF A CLAIMANT UNDER A CONDITIONAL SALES AGREEMENT FOR THE UNPAID PURCHASE PRICE MAY BE RECOGNIZED IF ASSERTED WITHIN THE TIME AND IN THE MANNER SPECIFIED IN THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND ALLOWED BY THE COURT AND, IF THE VEHICLE IS RETAINED FOR USE IN THE CUSTOMS SERVICE, SUCH LIEN MAY BE PAID FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925 (43 STAT. 1116). IF THE LIEN IS NOT ALLOWED BY THE COURT IT MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, APRIL 24, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 27, 1929, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER AN ACT APPROVED MARCH 3, 1925 (43 STAT. 1116), ENTITLED "AN ACT RELATING TO THE USE OF DISPOSAL OF VESSELS OR VEHICLES FORFEITED TO THE UNITED STATES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS OR THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES" IT IS PROVIDED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR DEFRAYING THE EXPENSES OF COLLECTING REVENUE FROM CUSTOMS OR FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION ACT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF MAINTENANCE, REPAIR AND OPERATION OF VESSELS AND VEHICLES ALLOTTED FOR THE USE OF THE CUSTOMS AND PROHIBITION SERVICES, AND IT IS FURTHER PROVIDED THAT SAID APPROPRIATIONS SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF ANY LIEN ALLOWED BY THE COURT IF SEIZURE IS MADE UNDER ANY SECTION OF LAW UNDER WHICH LIENS ARE RECOGNIZED.

YOUR OPINION IS SOLICITED ON THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THIS PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION OF A LIEN HELD BY A CLAIMANT ON AN AUTOMOBILE UNDER A CONDITIONAL SALES AGREEMENT WHEN SAID AUTOMOBILE IS SEIZED AND FORFEITED UNDER THE CUSTOMS REVENUE LAWS.

SECTIONS 607 TO 613, INCLUSIVE, OF THE TARIFF ACT OF SEPTEMBER 21, 1922, 42 STAT. 985, 986, PROVIDE FOR THE SEIZURE, FORFEITURE, AND SALE OF VEHICLES AND OTHER PROPERTY INVOLVED IN VIOLATIONS OF THE CUSTOMS LAWS AND FOR THE RIGHTS OF CLAIMANTS IF ASSERTED WITHIN THE TIME SPECIFIED IN THE ACT. IT IS PRESUMED THAT YOUR SUBMISSION RELATES ONLY TO AUTOMOBILES WHICH AFTER FORFEITURE ARE NOT SOLD BUT ARE RETAINED FOR USE IN THE CUSTOMS SERVICE. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, A BONA FIDE CLAIM FOR THE UNPAID PURCHASE PRICE DUE UNDER A CONDITIONAL SALES AGREEMENT WOULD CONSTITUTE A LIEN WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, AND IF ASSERTED WITHIN THE TIME AND IN THE MANNER REQUIRED BY THE CUSTOMS LAWS, AND ALLOWED BY THE COURT, IT PROPERLY MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE EXPENSES OF THE CUSTOMS SERVICE. IF CLAIM BY THE CONDITIONAL SALES LIENOR IS NOT "ALLOWED BY THE COURT" THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1925, ARE NOT APPLICABLE AND THE UNPAID PORTION OF THE PURCHASE PRICE MAY NOT BE PAID FROM THE CUSTOMS APPROPRIATION. REFUNDS UNDER SECTION 613 OF THE TARIFF ACT OF 1922 ARE PAYABLE ONLY FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION 4 COMP. GEN. 129; A-25316, FEBRUARY 19, 1929, AND IN RE C.I.T. CORPORATION, 28 FED.REP./2D), 50.