Thursday, December 6, 2012

HOLMES, HAND, DWORKIN, TAXES


En su trabajo "Roland Dworkin-un solitario entre los juristas" (¡Ay, Europa!), Habermas cita la siguiente anécdota que Dworkin conocía por Hand:


"En una ocasión , en la época en que era juez del Tribunal Supremo, Holmes llevo al juzgado en su coche al joven Learned Hand.Al llegar a su destino, Hand descendió del coche y se despidióagitando la mano y gritando alegremente hacia el coche que ya se alejaba: ¡cuide usted de la justicia, juez Holmes!".Holmes pidó al conductor que detuviese el coche y diese marcha atrás en dirección al sorprendido Hand, para asomarse por la ventanilla y decirle: "That’s not my job".A continuación el coche volvió a girar y condujo a Holmes a su trabajo, que supuestamente no consitía en cuidar de la justicia."

La anécdota no oculta la complejidad de Holmes.Una frase suya del  caso tributario "COMPANIA GENERAL DE TABACOS DE FILIPINAS v. COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL, 275 U.S. 87 (1927)" es la que consta inscrita en el edificio del Internal Revenue Service: "Taxes are what we paid for civilized society" (ver fotografía).La frase a su vez tampoco deja de ser compleja porque "civilized society" sería un requisito que debería cumplirse para la legitimación tributaria.

En el mismo, Holmes votó con la minoría:

"Mr. Justice HOLMES (dissenting). 


This is a suit to recover the amount of a tax alleged to have been illegally imposed. The plaintiff is a Spanish corporation licensed to do business in the Philippine Islands and having an office in Manila. In 1922 from time to time it bought goods and put them into its Philippine warehouses. It notified its head office in Barcelona, Spain, of the value of the goods and that office thereupon insured them under open policies issued by a company of London. From time to time also the Philippine branch shipped the goods abroad for sale and secured insurance upon the shipments in the same manner, the premiums being charged to it in both cases. By section 192 of the Philippine Insurance Act No. 2427, as amended by Act No. 2430, where owners of property obtain insurance directly with foreign companies the owners are required to report each case to the Collector of Internal Revenue and to 'pay the tax of one per centum on premium paid, in the manner required by law of insurance companies.' The defendant Collector collected this tax on the above mentioned premiums from the plaintiff against its protest. The plaintiff bases its suit upon the contentions that the statute is contrary to the Act of Congress of August 29, 1916, c. 416, 3 (the Jones Act), 39 Stat. 545, 546, 547, as depriving it of its property without due process of law, and also as departing from the requirement in the same section that the rules of taxation shall be uniform. The Supreme Court of the Philippines upheld the tax. A writ of certiorari was granted by this Court. 271 U.S. 655 , 46 S. Ct. 486. [275 U.S. 87, 100]   The plaintiff's reliance is upon Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578 , 17 S. Ct. 427, in which it was held that a fine could not be imposed by the State for sending a notice similar to the present to an insurance company out of the State. But it seems to me that the tax was justified and that this case is distinguished from that of Allgeyer and from St. Louis Cotton Compress Co. v. Arkansas, 260 U.S. 346 , 43 S. Ct. 125, by the difference between a penalty and a tax. It is true, as indicated in the last cited case, that every exaction of money for an act is a discouragement to the extent of the payment required, but that which in its immediacy is a discouragement may be part of an encouragement when seen in its organic connection with the whole. Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure. A penalty on the other hand is intended altogether to prevent the thing punished. It readily may be seen that a State may tax things that under the Constitution as interpreted it can not prevent. The constitutional right asserted in Allgeyer v. Louisiana to earn one's livelihood by any lawful calling certainly is consistent, as we all know, with the calling being taxed.
Sometimes there may be a difficulty in deciding whether an imposition is a tax or a penalty, but generally the intent to prohibit when it exists is plainly expressed. Sometimes even when it is called a tax the requirement is shown to be a penalty by its excess in amount over the tax in similar cases, as in St. Louis Cotton Compress Co. v. Arkansas. But in the present instance there is no room for doubt. The charge not only is called a tax but is the same in amount as that imposed where the right to impose it is not denied.
The government has the insured within its jurisdiction. I can see no ground for denying its right to use its power to tax unless it can be shown that it has conferred no benefit of a kind that would justify the tax, as is held with regard to property outside of a State belonging to one within it. Frick v. Pennsylvania, 268 U.S. 473, 489 , 45 S. Ct. 603, 42 A.L.R. 316. [275 U.S. 87, 101]   But here an act was done in the Islands that was intended by the plaintiff to be and was an essential step towards the insurance, and, if that is not enough, the government of the Islands was protecting the property at the very moment in respect of which it levied the tax. Precisely this question was met and disposed of in Equitable Life Assurance Co. v. Pennsylvania, 238 U.S. 143, 147 , 35 S. Ct. 829
The result of upholding the government's action is just. When it taxes domestic insurance it reasonably may endeavor not to let the foreign insurance escape. If it does not discriminate against the latter it naturally does not want to discriminate against its own.
The suggestion that the rule of taxation is not uniform may be disposed of in a few words. The uniformity required is uniformity in substance not in form. The insurance is taxed uniformly, and although in the case of domestic insurance the tax is laid upon the company whereas here it is laid upon the insured, it must be presumed that in the former case the company passes the tax on to the insured as an element in the premium charged.
For these reasons Mr. Justice BRANDEIS and I are of opinion that the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Islands should be affirmed."

A la vista del caso, mi primera impresión es que el Juez Taft llevaba razón con la mayoría y el tributo exigido a la compañía española era en parte constitucional y en parte no.Ello también proporciona una idea adecuada de la complejidad de la "vida civilizada" y de la simplificación de las "frases hechas".

Quizás otra frase de Holmes compañera de la cita de Hand, Dworkin y Habermas sea ésta:


"I always say, as you know, that if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It's my job."

Letter to Harold J. Laski (March 4, 1920); reported in Mark DeWolfe Howe, ed., Holmes-Laski Letters (1953), vol. 1, p. 249.

Pero lo que Learned Hand, a su vez, dijo, como ciudadano, de las esperanzas sobre la libertad, también puede decirse de las esperanzas sobre los tributos en la medida que afectan a la organización de la libertad en una sociedad civilizada:

 "¿Qué queremos decir cuando decimos que lo primero que buscamos es la libertad?.A menudo me pregunto si no ponemos demasiadas esperanzas sobre las constituciones, las leyes y los tribunales.Estas son falsas esperanzas, creédme, son esperanzas falsas. La libertad reside en los corazones de las mujeres y los hombres, y cuando muere allí, ninguna constitución, ninguna ley, ni ningún tribunal puede hacer mucho por ayudar.Mientras reside allí no necesita cosntitución, ni ley, ni tribunal para salvarla."

 Learned Hand ( "I am an American Day", Speech delivered at Central Park, May 21 1944)
 
Heráclito ya afirmó que "el pueblo debe combatir más por la ley que por los muros de su ciudad"





0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Suscribir con Bloglines Creative Commons License
Esta