Memorandum of Disapproval of H.R. 5677 a Bill for the Relief of Robert L. and Mildred M. Miller
I have withheld my approval from H.R. 5677, entitled "AN ACT For the relief of Robert L. Miller and Mildred M. Miller."
H.R. 5677 would waive the requirements of the applicable statute of limitations to permit the Millers to file untimely claims for tax refund. For the reasons outlined below, approval of H.R. 5677 would constitute a very undesirable step.
It is vital to the fairness and effectiveness of our tax system that taxpayers who are in similar circumstances be treated alike. This bill discriminates in favor of the Millers and against all other taxpayers who are b4lrred by the statute of limitations from recovering mistaken overpayments of tax. There is no justification for discrimination of this sort.
The statutory periods of limitation which Congress has included in the revenue laws are essential in order to assure finality in tax administration. They serve to bar, after the lapse of a reasonable amount of time, both the filing of a claim for refund by the taxpayer and the assessment of additional taxes by the Government. To override these statutory limitations in this case would open the door to the filing of untimely claims for refund in any instance in which a taxpayer made a mistake in filing his return or in selecting an attorney or tax advisor. Such a development would seriously weaken the statute of limitations in tax matters, and would jeopardize the effective administration of the tax laws.
Special circumstances do not justify granting relief in this case. The most basic of a citizen's obligations under our self-assessment system of taxation is the obligation to file a completed, signed tax return. In discharging this obligation, taxpayers are free to choose whomever they wish to assist them. However, the obligation to file a correct return remains the taxpayer's, even though he may ask others to assist him in preparing his return.
In this case, it is clear that the Millers are responsible and skillful business persons who were not unaware of their personal tax obligations. By 1952, they had been signing their personal income tax returns for 20 years, and had in fact signed returns prepared by their attorney in each of the four years immediately preceding 1952. Nevertheless the Millers failed to file their tax returns for 1952 and 1953 until February 15, 1960. No declarations of estimated tax were ever filed by them. Under these circumstances, it is clear that the problems which H.R. 5677 seeks to remedy are a direct result of the Millers own failure to discharge the most basic of the obligations imposed on all citizens by our tax system—the obligation to file timely and correct tax returns. A failure to discharge this basic obligation in a timely way, either by personal effort or by selecting a reliable tax advisor, does not constitute a proper ground for special legislative relief from the rules contained in the applicable statute of limitations.
For these reasons, I have withheld my approval of H.R. 5677.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON
The White House
October 21, 1968
Lyndon B. Johnson, Memorandum of Disapproval of H.R. 5677 a Bill for the Relief of Robert L. and Mildred M. Miller Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/306432