Adams v. Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Co.

Decision Date22 November 1898
Citation77 Miss. 194,24 So. 200
CourtMississippi Supreme Court
March 1899

FROM the circuit court of Hinds county, first district, HON ROBERT POWELL, Judge.

The state revenue agent, proceeding under the authority conferred upon him by chapter 126, code 1892, and the act of 1894 amendatory thereof, instituted three successive actions of debt to recover from the Yazoo & Mississippi Railroad Company and from the Illinois Central Railroad Company taxes which had been assessed by the state railroad assessors under authority conferred upon them by the revenue chapter of the code and by the aforesaid act of 1894, against the railroad property which formerly had belonged to the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway Company, and had been acquired by the Yazoo & Mississippi Railroad Company by a consolidation effected October 24, 1892.

The taxes assessed and sued for were for the years 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1895, respectively. The defendants, in response to sad action, pleaded the grant made to the said Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway Company, by sec. 5 of the act of March 3, 1882, under which act the said company had been organized. Said sec. 5 extended to said company the right and privilege conferred upon the Mobile & Northwestern Railroad Company by sec. 21 of its charter. Said sec. 21 of the Mobile & Northwestern charter so extended to the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway Company, was, so far as is material to be set forth herein, as follows:

"All taxes to which company shall be subject for the period of thirty years are hereby appropriated and set apart, and shall be applied to the payment of the debts and liabilities which the said company may have incurred in the construction of said road, and it shall be the duty of the tax collector in every county, in each and every year, to give to the said company a receipt in full for the amount of said taxes, upon receiving from said company affidavit made by the president or cashier of said company that the amount of said taxes had actually, and in good faith, been paid and applied to said company during the year, in payment, of the debts incurred, or money borrowed as aforesaid, which receipt, so given, shall be in full of all taxes, county, state, and municipal, to which said company shall be subject."

The plea interposed by the defendants set forth, the performance of the conditions of the said statute. To this plea the plaintiff interposed fourteen replications, seven of which were held bad on demurrer, the remainder resulting in issues of fact on which the three cases were consolidated into one. The fifth replication to the defendants' plea was as follows:

"And for further replication the plaintiff says that by the consolidation of the said Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway Company and the said Yazoo & Mississippi Railroad Company, a new corporation was formed, after the adoption of the present constitution of this state, and that by reason thereof, all the property of said consolidated railroad company became and was liable to taxation; and this he is ready to verify, " etc.

There was a trial of the consolidated cause before a jury at the July term, 1896, which resulted in a verdict and a judgment for the defendants as to the taxes of 1892, 1893, and 1894, and a verdict in favor of the plaintiff as to the taxes of 1895.

From the judgment so rendered in favor of the defendants as to taxes of 1892, 1893, and 1894, the state revenue agent appealed, and from the judgment in favor of plaintiff as to the taxes of 1895 the defendants took a cross appeal.

The constitutional and statutory provisions mentioned in the opinion of the court in disposing of this appeal, are the following: Const. 1869, sec. 13, art. 12: "The property of all corporations for pecuniary profit shall be subject to taxation the same as that of individuals." Ib., sec. 20, art. 12: "Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the state; all property shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as directed by law." Const. 1890, sec. 180: "All existing charters or grants of corporate franchise under which organizations have not, in good faith, taken place at the adoption of this constitution, shall be subject to the provisions of this article." Ib., sec. 181: "The property of all private corporations for pecuniary gain shall be taxed in the same way and to the same extent as the property of individuals." Ib., sec. 279: "All writs, actions, causes of actions, proceedings, and rights of individuals and bodies corporate, and of the state, and charters of incorporation shall continue."

Act 1882 incorporating New Orleans, Baton Rouge, etc., Railroad Company, approved March 9, 1882 (Laws, pp. 920, 932, sec. 25): "That the company shall have power and authority to purchase and hold any connecting railroad and operate the same, or to consolidate the company with any other company, under the name of one or both, but when such purchase is made, or consolidation is effected, the said company shall be entitled to all the benefits, rights, franchises, lands, and property of every description belonging to said road or roads so sold or consolidated."

Act of 1882, incorporating Yazoo, etc., Railroad Company, approved February 17, 1882 (Laws, pp. 838, 849, sec. 5, p. 843): "Said company may consolidate with any other railroad company in or out of the stale of Mississippi, upon such terms as the consolidating companies may agree upon, and it may lease its railroads and all its property and franchises, rights, privileges, and immunities then owned, or thereafter to be acquired, or lease other railroads, in or out of this state, for a term of years or in perpetuity, and upon such consolidation the consolidated company shall have and enjoy all of the property, rights, privileges, liberties, and immunities and franchises herein granted, but such consolidation shall not have the effect of exempting from taxation the railroad or property owned by such other consolidating company prior to its consolidation with the company hereby chartered, nor of exempting from taxation any property which the consolidated company may, after such consolidation, acquire under the provisions of the charter of such consolidating company, " etc.

Code 1880, § 597, provides that each railroad company operating in this state shall, on or before the third Monday in August in each year, file with the auditor of public accounts a schedule of its property for ad valorem taxation, and prescribes what such schedule shall contain by way of description, valuation, etc.

Section 598 provides that the Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company shall, on or before August 1, 1880, make out and file with the auditor of public accounts (in addition to what is required in the preceding section) a sworn statement of the capital expended in the construction of its road. Sections 599, 600, 601, 602 regulate the assessment of railway property for ad valorem taxation.

Section 603 provides for the due ascertainment and certification of the amount of ad valorem taxes due by each company.

Sections 604, 605, provide how such ad valorem taxes shall be collected.

Section 606 provides for municipal taxation of railroad property for municipal purposes.

Section 607 is as follows: "Each and every railroad company which shall accept this act, and annually pay to the auditor of public accounts the taxes hereafter provided for, and will signify their acceptance in writing, shall be exempt (except from the last preceding section) from the provisions of the foregoing sections of this act until otherwise ordered and provided by law, and the payment of the same shall be in full of all state and county taxes, fifty per centum of which said tax shall be placed to the credit of the counties through which said railroads may pass, to be drawn by the county treasurers of the counties in proportion to the number of miles of said roads in said respective counties; provided, that lands owned by railroad companies, and not used in operating the railroads, shall be taxable as other properties and for all purposes."

Section 608 is as follows: "Each railroad company whose line is in whole or in part in this state shall, if it accepts the provisions of this act, pay to the state treasurer on the warrant of the auditor, on or before the thirty-first day of December, in each year, a privilege tax as follows, to wit: The Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company, and its branches, $ 80 per mile. . . . . Provided, that no railroad company shall be subject to taxation under this chapter while the same is in process of construction, but if any part of any road shall be finished and used for profit, the part so finished shall be taxed, although the whole may not be finished."

The act of 1884 (Laws, p. 29) was one to amend §§ 607 and 608 of the code of 1880 as to accepting the provisions for payment of a privilege tax in lieu of ad valorem taxes, and in fixing the rate, per mile, of each railroad company, employs the following language: "The Natchez, Jackson & Columbus Railroad Company, forty dollars per mile; after expiration of exemption, as provided in its charter and amendments thereof."

The exemption referred to is expressed in the act of August 8, 1870, extending the exemption in favor of the Mobile & Northwestern Railroad Company, heretofore quoted, to the Natchez & Jackson Railroad Company, which afterwards became, by change of name, the Natchez, Jackson & Columbus Railroad Company. Laws 1870, p. 327.

By the act of 1886 (Laws, p. 23), is was provided as follows "And hereafter all the railroads...

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