Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Eric and Ida Mac Hjerpe.
I AM withholding my approval from H.R. 2074, for the relief of Eric and Ida Mac Hjerpe.
In their income tax return for 1952 these taxpayers reported as income certain disability payments received by Mr. Hjerpe from his employer. During 1952, however, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had held such disability payments excludable from gross income, even though the Internal Revenue Service had ruled to the contrary, and in 1957 the United States Supreme Court affirmed.
The taxpayers' claim for refund, based upon the excludability of the disability pay received by Mr. Hjerpe, was filed almost four years after the 1952 return had been filed and approximately 10½ months after the expiration of the applicable three-year statutory period of limitations. The claim was accordingly disallowed.
The last Congress enacted legislation to grant general relief, on a nondiscriminatory basis, to taxpayers who had paid income tax on disability pay excludable from gross income under the Supreme Court decision. Relief was not provided, however, for taxpayers who, as in the case at hand, had not attempted to protect their rights by filing timely claims for refund.
H.R. 2074 would direct the payment to Mr. and Mrs. Hjerpe of $1,096.48 as a refund notwithstanding their late filing and failure to qualify under the general relief legislation. The bill is similar to several others from which I have withheld my approval in the past.
The statutory period of limitations, which the Congress has included in the revenue system as a matter of sound policy, is essential in order to achieve finality in tax administration. A substantial number of taxpayers paid income tax on disability payments received by them and failed to file timely claims for refund. To grant special relief in this case, where a refund was not claimed within the time prescribed by law, would constitute a discrimination against other similarly situated taxpayers and would create an undesirable precedent.
Under the circumstances, therefore, I am compelled to withhold my approval of the bill.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Eric and Ida Mac Hjerpe. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235341