General Motors Corp. v. City of Detroit, s. 121-122

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtDETHMERS; KAVANAGH; ADAMS
Citation126 N.W.2d 108,372 Mich. 234
PartiesGENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. CITY OF DETROIT, a municipal corporation of the State of Michigan, and Charles N.Williams, its Treasurer, Defendants and Appellants. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. COUNTY OF WAYNE, a county of the State of Michigan, and Harold E. Stoll, its Treasurer, Defendants and Appellants.
Docket NumberNos. 121-122,s. 121-122
Decision Date03 February 1964

Robert Reese, Corp. Counsel, John H. Witherspoon, Julius C. Pliskow, Robert D. McClear, Detroit, Assts. Corp. Counsel, for defendants and appellants, City of Detroit and others.

Samuel H. Olsen, Prosecuting Atty., Aloysius J. Suchy, William F. Koney, Detroit, Asst. Prosecuting Attys., for defendants and appellants, County of Wayne and others.

Dickinson, Wright, McKean & Cudlip, Detroit, for plaintiff and appellee; Patrick J. Ledwidge, Aloysius F. Power, Donald K. Barnes, Detroit, of counsel.

Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, Detroit, for The Board of Education of the School District of the City of Detroit, Michigan, amicus curiae; Frederic B. Besimer, George E. Bushnell, Jr., and Richard A. Jones, Detroit, of counsel.

Before the Entire Bench, except SOURIS and SMITH, JJ.

DETHMERS, Justice.

Plaintiff sued to recover 1959 personal property taxes paid defendants under protest. From summary judgments against them, defendants appeal.

The personal property involved consisted of machinery and equipment owned by the united States, located in plaintiff's plants in Detroit and used by it, as a defense contractor, in making goods for the United States under contracts between them.

The trial court's decision was planted on our holding in Continental Motors Corporation v. Township of Muskegon, 365 Mich. 191, 112 N.W.2d 429 that prior to the amendment contained in P.A.1959, No. 266 1 (not applicable to 1959 taxes), Michigan's general property tax act 2 did not authorize taxation of possessory interests held by individuals in personal property owned by the United States.

Defendants stress what they term distinctions on the facts between this case and Continental. These may be pertinent to other objections raised by plaintiff to the tax. They are not so as to the controlling point in Continental, also raised by plaintiff here, that no statutory (here also charter) authority existed for collection of the 1959 tax in question.

Defendants' discussions of where the legal incidence, as distinguished from economic burden, of the tax falls, and whether it represents an assessment in personam or in rem, while of possible value in a consideration of the question of implied constitutional immunity from State taxation of the Federal government, its agencies and property, are not decisive of the applicability of Continental. Michigan Constitution 1908, art. 10, § 3, provides for a personal property tax to 'be levied on such property' and that it shall be 'taxation for such property' and 'taxation on such property.' The mentioned general property tax act implements this by providing 'that all property, real and personal * * * shall be subject to taxation.' In Continental this Court said that our law authorized an ad valorem tax 'on the personal property itself.' The city charter of Detroit, title VI, ch 2, § 1, provides for 'taxes upon personal property.' The charter does not and could not confer taxing powers beyond those authorized by Constitution and statute. Clearly, the tax is on the property.

Defendants say Continental is not controlling because there are distinctions between the governing law involved here and in Continental. These are said to consist of the following, namely, (1) that this assessment is made under a Detroit charter provision that 'persons in possession of any personal property shall pay all taxes assessed thereon,' 3 while the assessment made by a township in Continental was made under the State's general property tax law which did not contain a comparable provision, and (2) that the tax here is not, as was considered in Continental, a tax on possessory or other limited interests in personal property separate and distinct from the property itself, but is actually a tax on the whole interest in the personal property, made, by ordinance, payable by the person in possession.

The holding in Continental may not thus be escaped. This Court held therein that as of 1959 '* * * our law authorized only an ad valorem tax on the personal property itself without providing for taxation of possessory interests * * *'. If the tax is on a possessory interest, it is invalid under Continental.

On the other hand, if, as defendants urge, the tax is on the entire interest in the personal property, it is a tax on personal property...

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8 cases
  • Lytle v. Malady, Docket No. 102515
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 31 d4 Julho d4 1997
    ...support for a claim or defense. Adkins v. Thomas Solvent Co., 440 Mich. 293, 302, 487 N.W.2d 715 (1992); General Motors Corp. v. Detroit, 372 Mich. 234, 239-240, 126 N.W.2d 108 (1964). The affidavits, pleadings, depositions, admissions, and other material supporting and opposing the motion ......
  • Adkins v. Thomas Solvent Co., Docket No. 88897
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 28 d2 Julho d2 1992
    ...property. The trial court concluded that the defendants would be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. General Motors Corp. v. Detroit, 372 Mich. 234, 126 N.W.2d 108, cert. den. 377 U.S. 977, 84 S.Ct. 1883, 12 L.Ed.2d 746 (1964). For a summary disposition to be upheld on appeal, the Cour......
  • Continental Motors Corp. v. Muskegon Tp., 13
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 13 d2 Julho d2 1965
    ...was made with respect thereto in Continental Motors v. Muskegon Twp., 365 Mich. 191, 112 N.W.2d 429, and General Motors Corp. v. City of Detroit, 372 Mich. 234, 126 N.W.2d 108. Broadly stated, the issues presented in the parties' oral arguments and in their briefs include the nature of the ......
  • State ex rel. General Motors Corp., AC Electronics Division v. City of Oak Creek, 209
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 5 d2 Janeiro d2 1971
    ...authority. See Continental Motors Corp. v. Township of Muskegon (1961), 365 Mich. 191, 112 N.W.2d 429; General Motors Corp. v. City of Detroit (1964), 372 Mich. 234, 126 N.W.2d 108, certiorari denied 377 U.S. 977, 84 S.Ct. 1883, 12 L.Ed.2d 746 and Burroughs Corp. v. City of Detroit (1969), ......
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