Home Page
 
 

 

 


 
Appendix B 

YOUR GOVERNMENT'S DEFINITION OF THE WORD MUST


You've probably been told that you "Must" file a form, or you "Must" disclose a number. Let's take a closer look.

US Supreme Court in US vs. Minker, 350 US 179 at page 187: "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their rights, due to ignorance."

US v. Tallmadge 829 F2d 767: "... One who relies on a legal interpretation by a government official assumes the risk that it is in error... it has also been held or said that `the government could scarcely function if it were bound by its employees unauthorized representations'" Goldberg v. Weinberger, 546 F2d 477.

Caterpillar Tractor Company v. US, 589 F2d 1040 (also see GEHL Co. v. C.I.R. 795 F2d 1324): "Informal publications of IRS all the way up to revenue rulings are simply guides to taxpayers and taxpayer relies on them at his peril."

United States Supreme Court Federal Crop Insurance Corp. v. Merril, 332 US 380 (1947): "... Anyone entering into an arrangement with the government takes the risk of having accurately ascertained that he who purports to act for the government stays within the bounds of his authority ... and this is so even though, as here, the agent himself may have been unaware of the limitations upon his authority."

Fields v. US, 27 App DC 433: Words like "may," "must," "shall," etc., are constantly used in statutes without intending that they be taken literally.

Brinkley v. Brinkley, 56 NY 192: "Must" as used in statutes has been frequently construed not to be mandatory

Fort Howard Paper v. Fox River Dist. 26 NW2nd 661: The word "shall" in a statute may be construed to mean "may," particularly in order to avoid a constitutional doubt.

Gow v. Consolidated Copper, 165 Atl. 136: If necessary, to avoid unconstitutionality of a statute, "shall" will be deemed equivalent to "may".

George Williams College v. Village of Williams Bay, 7 NW2nd 891: "Shall" in any statute may be construed to mean "may" in order to avoid constitutional doubt.

US Supreme Court, Cairo and Fulton RR Co. v. Hecht, 95 US 170: As against the government, the word "shall" when used in statutes is to be construed as "may," unless a contrary intention is manifest

Ballou v. Kemp, 95 F2nd 556: The word "shall" in a statute may be construed as "may" where the connection in which it is used or the relation to which it is put with other parts of the same statute indicates that the legislature intended that it should receive such a construction.