B-86880, JULY 14, 1949, 29 COMP. GEN. 18

B-86880: Jul 14, 1949

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STATE OR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS - ASSESSMENTS AGAINST GOVERNMENT PROPERTY - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY LANDS ACQUIRED BY THE UNITED STATES IN A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF A STATE FROM A RAILROAD COMPANY PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE THAT A SPECIAL STREET PAVING ASSESSMENT WAS LEVIED AGAINST SUCH PROPERTIES MAY NOT. THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSE THE RAILROAD COMPANY FOR A PORTION OF THE COST OF THE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT WHICH HAD BEEN PAID INADVERTENTLY BY THE COMPANY. 1949: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3. THE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS CLAIMED BY SAID COMPANY AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR ONE-HALF OF THE COST OF A STREET PAVING ASSESSMENT AGAINST CERTAIN PROPERTIES IN THE VILLAGE OF OXFORD.

B-86880, JULY 14, 1949, 29 COMP. GEN. 18

STATE OR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS - ASSESSMENTS AGAINST GOVERNMENT PROPERTY - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY LANDS ACQUIRED BY THE UNITED STATES IN A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF A STATE FROM A RAILROAD COMPANY PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE THAT A SPECIAL STREET PAVING ASSESSMENT WAS LEVIED AGAINST SUCH PROPERTIES MAY NOT, IN VIEW OF THE IMMUNITY OF THE UNITED STATES FROM STATE TAXATION, BE REGARDED AS SUBJECT TO THE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT, NOR CAN THE COLLECTION OF THE TAX BE ENFORCED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES; HENCE, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSE THE RAILROAD COMPANY FOR A PORTION OF THE COST OF THE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT WHICH HAD BEEN PAID INADVERTENTLY BY THE COMPANY.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO FRANK H. SHINER, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, JULY 14, 1949:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 3, 1949, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER, TOGETHER WITH RELATED PAPERS, STATED IN FAVOR OF THE CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD COMPANY IN THE AMOUNT OF $904.87 AND REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER IT PROPERLY MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. THE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS CLAIMED BY SAID COMPANY AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR ONE-HALF OF THE COST OF A STREET PAVING ASSESSMENT AGAINST CERTAIN PROPERTIES IN THE VILLAGE OF OXFORD, NEBRASKA, PAID BY THE COMPANY.

IT APPEARS THAT A STREET PAVING ASSESSMENT WAS LEVIED BY THE VILLAGE OF OXFORD AGAINST CERTAIN PROPERTIES IN THAT VILLAGE, WHICH ASSESSMENT BECAME EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 4, 1948. THE VILLAGE RENDERED A BILL TO THE CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD COMPANY IN THE AMOUNT OF $15,130.55 FOR SUCH OF SAID SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS AS WERE LEVIED AS BEING AGAINST PROPERTIES OF THE COMPANY. THE BILL WAS PAID BY THE COMPANY. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT CERTAIN OF THE PROPERTIES AGAINST WHICH $1,809.75 OF SAID ASSESSMENTS SO PAID BY THE COMPANY WAS LEVIED HAD BEEN ACQUIRED BY THE UNITED STATES FROM THE COMPANY ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 20, 1948--- WHICH WAS PRIOR TO THE LEVY, AND WHICH FACT APPARENTLY HAD BEEN OVERLOOKED BY THE COMPANY AT THE TIME IT PAID THE ASSESSMENTS.

IT FURTHER APPEARS THAT THE COMPANY FILED A CLAIM AGAINST THE VILLAGE FOR REFUND OF THE $1,809.75 LEVIED AGAINST THE PROPERTIES WHICH HAD BEEN ACQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT AND IT IS STATED THAT, AS A RESULT, THE VILLAGE REFUNDED THE COMPANY ONE-HALF OF THE SAID AMOUNT OF $1,809.75 UNDER APPLICABLE NEBRASKA STATUTES. THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON THE VOUCHER HERE INVOLVED IS THE REMAINING ONE-HALF THEREOF.

IT IS, OF COURSE, WELL ESTABLISHED THAT LANDS OWNED BY THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT SUBJECT TO TAXATION BY A STATE OR ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF A STATE. THIS RULE APPLIES WITH EQUAL FORCE IN THE CASE OF SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS FOR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS AS WELL AS IN CASES OF A GENERAL TAX AGAINST LANDS OWNED BY THE UNITED STATES. SEE 27 COMP. GEN. 20, AND CASES CITED IN THAT DECISION. HENCE, SINCE IT APPEARS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD, PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT, ACQUIRED THE PROPERTIES AGAINST WHICH THE AMOUNT HERE INVOLVED WAS LEVIED, SUCH PROPERTIES WERE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT AND THE COLLECTION OF THE TAX COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ENFORCED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. SUCH BEING THE CASE, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REIMBURSE THE COMPANY THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON THE SUBJECT VOUCHER.

ACCORDINGLY, CERTIFICATION OF THE VOUCHER IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THE VOUCHER AND RELATED PAPERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.