18279Tax Laws Wrongfully Administered
- Feb 27, 2011
A valid law may be wrongfully administered by officers of the State, and so as to make such administration an illegal burden and exaction upon the individual. A tax law, as it leaves the legislative hands, may not be obnoxious to any challenge, and yet the officers charged with the administration of that valid tax law may so act under it in the matter of assessment or 391*391 collection as to work an illegal trespass upon the property rights of the individual. They may go beyond the powers thereby conferred, and when they do so the fact that they are assuming to act under a valid law will not oust the courts of jurisdiction to restrain their excessive and illegal acts. In Cunningham v. Macon & Brunswick Railroad, 109 U.S. 446, 452, it was said:
"Another class of cases is where an individual is sued in tort for some act injurious to another in regard to person or property, to which his defence is that he has acted under the orders of the government.
"In these cases he is not sued as, or because he is, the officer of the government, but as an individual, and the court is not ousted of jurisdiction because he asserts authority as such officer. To make out his defence he must show that his authority was sufficient in law to protect him. See Mitchell v. Harmony, 13 How. 115; Bates v. Clark, 95 U.S. 204; Meigs v. McClung, 9 Cranch, 11; Wilcox v. Jackson, 13 Pet. 498; Brown v. Huger, 21 How. 305; Grisar v. McDowell, 6 Wall, 363." Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 US 362, 391 (1894).
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