Carter Carburetor Corp. v. City of St. Louis, No. 40353.

CourtMissouri Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtEllison
Citation203 S.W.2d 438
PartiesCARTER CARBURETOR CORPORATION v. THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS and R.E. GRUNER, Collector of the Revenue of the CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 40353.
Decision Date09 June 1947
203 S.W.2d 438
CARTER CARBURETOR CORPORATION
v.
THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS and R.E. GRUNER, Collector of the Revenue of the CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Appellants.
No. 40353.
Supreme Court of Missouri.
Court en Banc, June 9, 1947.
Rehearing Denied, July 5, 1947.

Appeal from Circuit Court of City of St. Louis.Hon Robert J. Kirkwood, Judge.

AFFIRMED.

George L. Stemmler, City Counselor, James V. Frank, First Associate City Counselor, Albert Miller, and Forrest G. Ferris, Jr., Associate City Counselors, for appellants.

(1) The Charter of the City of St. Louis gives to the city power "To assess, levy and collect taxes for all general and special purposes on all subjects or objects of taxation." Charter, Art. I, Sec. 1, Par. (1). (2) The ordinance in issue in this case has, as its sole and declared purpose, the raising of revenue for "local" or "municipal" or "city" purposes. For purposes of considering the power of the City to enact this ordinance, the foregoing provision of the Charter must be construed as it relates solely to taxes for "local" or "municipal" or "city" purposes, as distinguished from taxes for "state" purposes or taxes relating to matters of "state" or "general" concern. Constitution of 1875, Art. IX, Sec. 20; State ex rel. Carpenter v. St. Louis, 318 Mo. 870, 2 S.W. (2d) 713; Turner v. Kansas City, 354 Mo. 857, 191 S.W. (2d) 612; St. Louis v. Dorr, 145 Mo. 466, 41 S.W. 1094, 46 S.W. 976, 68 Am. St. Rep. 575, 42 L.R.A. 686. (3) The purpose of the people, when adopting the Charter of 1914, to broaden the taxing power for local or municipal purposes, so as to include "all subjects or objects of taxation," is demonstrated by a consideration of the applicable provision of the previous Charter which placed a limitation upon the taxing power of the City and gave to it, specifically, only the power to tax "real and personal property and licenses." Charter of 1876, Art. III, Sec. 26, Par. First. (4) That the framers of the 1914 Charter construed the words, "all subjects or objects of taxation," as being all-inclusive, and as rendering unnecessary and superfluous any further provision as to specific subjects or objects of taxation, is further demonstrated by their omission in the present Charter of the specific provision (appearing in the 1876 Charter) expressly granting the power to levy ad valorem taxes. Charter of 1876, Art. III, Sec. 26, Par. First. (5) A tax on earnings and net profits is perforce included within the all-inclusive language, "taxes ... on all subjects or objects of taxation," and there is no need or reason for a further Charter provision granting the power to levy this specific tax. State ex rel. People's Motorbus Co. v. Blaine, 332 Mo. 582, 58 S.W. (2d) 975; Kansas City v. Frogge, 352 Mo. 233, 176 S.W. (2d) 498; St. Louis Gunning Advertising Co. v. St. Louis, 235 Mo. 99, 137 S.W. 929, appeal dismissed 231 U.S. 761, 58 L. Ed. 470, 34 S. Ct. 325. (6) The City of Philadelphia has enacted a similar tax ordinance under the general, all-inclusive, language of a statute authorizing it to "levy, assess and collect... taxes on persons, transactions, occupations, privileges, subjects and personal property ..." The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has held that the power to enact an ordinance taxing earnings and net profits is included in this general grant and has sustained the Philadelphia ordinance. Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes, Sec. 4613, p. 2128; Dole v. Philadelphia, 337 Pa. 375; Butcher v. Philadelphia, 333 Pa. 497. (7) The City's Charter, with respect to strictly municipal matters, has all the force and effect of an Act of the Legislature. Therefore, the Charter provision must be construed as having the same breadth and scope as an Act of the Legislature would have, in the absence of the Charter, which granted to the City the power "to assess, levy and collect taxes ... on all subjects or objects of taxation." Meier v. St. Louis, 180 Mo. 391, 79 S.W. 955; City of St. Louis v. Nash, 260 S.W. 985; Withnell v. Ruecking Construction Co., 249 U.S. 63, 63 L. Ed. 479, 39 S. Ct. 200. (8) The Charter of the City of St. Louis is a "constitutional charter," adopted pursuant to express grant from the sovereign people of the state and the powers of the City conferred by its Charter stem directly from the people through the Constitution. Constitution of 1875, Art. IX, Secs. 20, 21; State ex inf. Gentry v. Armstrong, 315 Mo. 298, 286 S.W. 705; Haeussler Inv. Co. v. Bates, 306 Mo. 392, 267 S.W. 632, (affirmed 271 U.S. 647, 46 S. Ct. 487, 70 L. Ed. 1131, upon authority of Withnell v. Ruecking Constr. Co., supra). (9) The distinction between a "constitutional charter" city deriving its powers directly from the Constitution (such as St. Louis), and other charter cities, deriving their powers from the Legislature, is expressly recognized by statute. House Bill 491, approved Dec. 19, 1945, being new Sec. 6215a, R.S. 1939. (10) The Constitution of 1945 recognizes the City of St. Louis "as now existing," and provides that, "As a city it shall continue for city purposes with its present charter." Constitution of 1945, Art. VI, Sec. 31. (11) The effect of this provision is to preserve and continue to the City, unimpaired and undiminished, its special character and all powers which it enjoyed under the Constitution of 1875. (12) In considering the scope of the City's powers under its Charter and Scheme of Separation, the utmost consideration must be given to the fact that it is a city in a special class, the first "home rule" city in the country and truly a "political subdivision," with the power, through express Constitutional grant, to govern and regulate its own purely local or municipal affairs. State ex inf. Gentry. v. Armstrong, supra; Haeussler Inv. Co. v. Bates, supra; Withnell v. Ruecking Constr. Co., supra. (13) This special character of the City has long been recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. City of St. Louis v. Western U. Teleg. Co., 149 U.S. 465, 37 L. Ed. 810, 13 S. Ct. 990; Withnell v. Ruecking Constr. Co., 249 U.S. 63, 63 L. Ed. 479, 39 S. Ct. 200. (14) The Constitution provides that the City's Charter shall be its "organic law." Constitution of 1875, Art. IX, Sec. 20; Constitution of 1945, Art. VI, Sec. 31. (15) "Organic law" is a term importing the highest authority. It is usually applied to the basic law of a people adopted by them for their own government, such as a constitution. In construing the Charter, therefore, the same rules of construction should apply as in construing the Constitution. St. Louis v. Dorr, 145 Mo. 466, 41 S.W. 1094, 46 S.W. 976, 68 Am. St. Rep. 575, 42 L.R.A. 686. (16) As such "organic law," the Charter has all the force and effect of a grant from the Legislature. Cases cited under (7). (17) The Board of Aldermen, in exercising those powers, is exercising a part of the law-making powers of the state, and, in so doing, constitutes part and parcel of the legislative department of the state. Albright v. Fisher, 164 Mo. 56 64 S.W. 106; Meier v. St. Louis, 180 Mo. 391, 79 S.W. 955; Sluder v. St. Louis Transit Co., 189 Mo. 107, 88 S.W. 648, 5 L.R.A. (N.S.) 186. (18) The words "under authority granted to them by the general assembly" in Sec. 1, Art. X, 1945 Constitution do not apply to the City of St. Louis in this case, as the city, as to matters of purely municipal concern, receives its taxing power directly from the Constitution, channelled through its Charter. City of St. Louis v. Bircher, 76 Mo. 431; City of St. Louis v. Sternberg, 69 Mo. 289. (19) When the taxing power is conferred on a city through its Charter, it may adopt any method of taxation that the Legislature could have authorized the City to adopt if the City were not acting under a Charter. State ex rel. Carpenter v. St. Louis, 318 Mo. 870, 2 S.W. (2d) 713; American Union Express Co. v. St. Joseph, 66 Mo. 675, 27 Am. Rep. 382. (20) If the City were not acting under its Charter, the Legislature could authorize it to levy a tax on earnings and net profits for municipal purposes. American Union Express Co. v. St. Joseph, supra.

Wm. R. Gentry for respondent; George B. Logan, J. Terrell Vaughan and Henry C. Lowenhaupt of counsel.

(1) The City of St. Louis has no "unfettered power" to tax even in a field which is of no "state" or "general" concern. All power of taxation is in the Sovereign State of Missouri. Kansas City v. Frogge, 352 Mo. 233, 176 S.W. (2d) 498; Kansas City v. J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co., 337 Mo. 913, 87 S.W. (2d) 195; Siemens v. Shreeve, 317 Mo. 736, 296 S.W. 415; Constitution of Mo. 1945, Art. X, Secs. 1, 2. (2) There has been no delegation of such "unfettered power" to the City of St. Louis by the Constitution of the State of Missouri. Kansas City v. Frogge, supra; State ex rel. People's Motor Bus Co. v. Blaine, 332 Mo. 582, 58 S.W. (2d) 975; State ex rel. Carpenter v. St. Louis, 318 Mo. 870, 2 S.W. (2d) 713. (3) There has been no delegation of such "unfettered power" to the City of St. Louis by the Legislature of the State of Missouri. (4) There has been no grant of such "unfettered power" to the City of St. Louis by its citizens even assuming a delegation of such power by the Constitution or Legislature of the State of Missouri. State ex rel. Carpenter v. St. Louis, supra; Kansas City v. Frogge, supra. (5) The position of the appellants as to the "unfettered power" of the City of St. Louis is already belied by constitutional and statutory limitations. Mo. Constitution, 1945, Art. X, Sec. 11; Mo. R.S.A., secs. 6620, 7440, 7442, 7744, 7780.1. (6) Appellants fallaciously assume the tax in question not to be of "state" and "general" concern, simply because the tax has "as its sole and declared purpose the raising of revenue for `local' or `municipal' or `city' purposes." Kansas City v. Frogge, supra. (7) The tax here in question is a matter of vital "state" and "general" concern because it will reduce the revenue received by the State of Missouri from the State...

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21 practice notes
  • Weekes v. City of Oakland, S.F. 23598
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 30, 1978
    ...that a similar tax in Missouri had been found to be an income tax. (Carter Carburetor Corp. v. St. Louis (1947) 356 Mo. 646, 653, 203 S.W.2d 438, 440.) The Carter tax was labeled an "earning tax" and was imposed on residents and nonresidents earning income in St. D. Government Code Section ......
  • Weekes v. City of Oakland
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 17, 1976
    ...(1958) 138 Colo. 41, 46-53, 329 P.2d 441, 444-447; and Carter Carburetor Corporation v. City of St. Louis (1947) 356 Mo. 646, 653-660, 203 S.W.2d 438, 440-445.) In the later Colorado case, the court did uphold a 'Business Occupational Privilege Tax' measured by the number of persons engaged......
  • Dooley v. City of Detroit, Nos. 53
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • May 9, 1963
    ...Council of Baltimore (1947), 189 Md. 191, 55 A.2d 491, 173 A.L.R. 1310; Carter Carburetor Corp. v. City of St. Louis (1947), 356 Mo. 646, 203 S.W.2d 438; Gross Income Tax Division v. Bartlett (1950), 228 Ind. 505, 93 N.E.2d 174, appeal dismissed, 340 U.S. 924, 71 S.Ct. 499, 95 L.Ed. 667; Ca......
  • City of Poplar Bluff v. Poplar Bluff Loan & Bldg. Ass'n, No. 8185
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 17, 1963
    ...Sec. 1978, p. 644; Moots v. City of Trenton, 358 Mo. 273, 214 S.W.2d 31; Carter Carburetor Corp. v. City of St. Louis, 356 Mo. 646, 203 S.W.2d 438; City of West Plains v. Noland, Mo.App., 112 S.W.2d 3 Holland Furnace Co. v. City of Chaffee, Mo.App., 279 S.W.2d 63, 68; Wilhoit v. City of Spr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Weekes v. City of Oakland, S.F. 23598
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 30, 1978
    ...that a similar tax in Missouri had been found to be an income tax. (Carter Carburetor Corp. v. St. Louis (1947) 356 Mo. 646, 653, 203 S.W.2d 438, 440.) The Carter tax was labeled an "earning tax" and was imposed on residents and nonresidents earning income in St. D. Government Code Section ......
  • Weekes v. City of Oakland
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 17, 1976
    ...(1958) 138 Colo. 41, 46-53, 329 P.2d 441, 444-447; and Carter Carburetor Corporation v. City of St. Louis (1947) 356 Mo. 646, 653-660, 203 S.W.2d 438, 440-445.) In the later Colorado case, the court did uphold a 'Business Occupational Privilege Tax' measured by the number of persons engaged......
  • Dooley v. City of Detroit, Nos. 53
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • May 9, 1963
    ...Council of Baltimore (1947), 189 Md. 191, 55 A.2d 491, 173 A.L.R. 1310; Carter Carburetor Corp. v. City of St. Louis (1947), 356 Mo. 646, 203 S.W.2d 438; Gross Income Tax Division v. Bartlett (1950), 228 Ind. 505, 93 N.E.2d 174, appeal dismissed, 340 U.S. 924, 71 S.Ct. 499, 95 L.Ed. 667; Ca......
  • City of Poplar Bluff v. Poplar Bluff Loan & Bldg. Ass'n, No. 8185
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • July 17, 1963
    ...Sec. 1978, p. 644; Moots v. City of Trenton, 358 Mo. 273, 214 S.W.2d 31; Carter Carburetor Corp. v. City of St. Louis, 356 Mo. 646, 203 S.W.2d 438; City of West Plains v. Noland, Mo.App., 112 S.W.2d 3 Holland Furnace Co. v. City of Chaffee, Mo.App., 279 S.W.2d 63, 68; Wilhoit v. City of Spr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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