Lawrence v. State Tax Commission of State of Mississippi, No. 580

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation87 A.L.R. 374,286 U.S. 276,76 L.Ed. 1102,52 S.Ct. 556
PartiesLAWRENCE et al. v. STATE TAX COMMISSION OF STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Docket NumberNo. 580
Decision Date16 May 1932

286 U.S. 276
52 S.Ct. 556
76 L.Ed. 1102
LAWRENCE et al.

v.

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.

No. 580.
Argued April 18, 1932.
Decided May 16, 1932.

Page 277

Mr. Wm. H. Watkins, of Jackson, Miss., for appellants.

[Argument of Counsel from page 277 intentionally omitted]

Page 278

Mr. J. A. Lauderdale, of Jackson, Miss., for appellee.

Mr. Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an appeal under section 237 of the Judicial Code (28 USCA § 344), from a decree of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, 137 So. 503, upholding the Mississippi income tax law (chapter 132, Miss. Laws of 1924, as amended in 1928, chapter 124, 2 Miss. Code Ann. 1930, p. 2136), which, as applied

Page 279

to appellant, is assailed as infringing the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Sections 5027 and 5033 of the statute impose an annual tax on the net income of corporations and individuals. But paragraph (b) of section 5033, added by the act of 1928 (Laws Miss. 1928, Ex. Sess., c. 32), provides: 'The term gross income, does not include * * * (11) Income of a domestic corporation, when earned from sources without this state. * * *'

Appellant, a citizen and resident of Mississippi, brought the present suit to set aside the assessment of a tax upon so much of his net income for 1929 as arose from the construction by him of public highways in the state of Tennessee. The taxing statute was challenged on the ground that in so far as it imposes a tax on income derived wholly from activities carried on outside the state, it deprived appellant of property without due process of law, and that in exempting corporations, which were his competitors, from a tas on income derived from like activities carried on outside the state, it denied to him the equal protection of the laws.

The obligation of one domiciled within a state to pay taxes there, arises from the unilateral action of the state government in the exercise of the most plenary of sovereign powers, that to raise revenue to defray the expenses of government and to distribute its burdens equably among those who enjoy its benefits. Hence, domicile in itself establishes a basis for taxation. Enjoyment of the privileges of residence within the state, and the attendant right to invoke the protection of its laws, are inseparable from the responsibility for sharing the costs of government. See Fidelity & Columbia Trust Co. v. Louisville, 245 U. S. 54, 58, 38 S. Ct. 40, 62 L. Ed. 145, L. R. A. 1918C, 124; Maguire v. Trefry, 253 U. S. 12, 14, 17, 40 S. Ct. 417, 64 L. Ed. 739; Kirtland v. Hotchkiss, 100 U. S. 491, 498, 25 L. Ed. 558; Shaffer v. Carter, 252 U. S. 37, 50, 40 S. Ct. 221, 64 L. Ed. 445. The Federal Constitution imposes on the states no particular modes of taxation, and apart from the specific grant to the federal government of the exclusive

Page 280

power to levy certain limited classes of taxes and to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, it leaves the states unrestricted in their power to tax those domiciled within them, so long as the tax imposed is upon property within the state or on privileges enjoyed there, and is not so palpably arbitrary or unreasonable as to infringe the Fourteenth Amendment. Kirtland v. Hotchkiss, supra.

Taxation at the place of domicile of tangibles located elsewhere has been thought to be beyond the jurisdiction of the state, Union Refrigerator Transit Co. v. Kentucky, 199 U. S. 194, 26 S. Ct. 36, 50 L. Ed. 150, 4 Ann. Cas. 493; Frick v. Pennsylvania, 268 U. S. 473, 488-489, 45 S. Ct. 603, 69 L. Ed. 1058, 42 A. L. R. 316; but considerations applicable to ownership of physical objects located outside the taxing jurisdiction, which have led to that conclusion, are obviously inapplicable to the taxation of intangibles at the place of domicile or of privileges which may be enjoyed there. See State Tax on Foreignheld bonds, 15 Wall. 300, 319, 21 L. Ed. 179; Frick v. Pennsylvania, supra, page 494 of 268 U. S., 45 S. Ct. 603. And the taxation of both by the state of the domicile has been uniformly upheld. Kirtland v. Hotchkiss, supra; Fidelity & Columbia Trust Co. v. Louisville, supra; Blodgett v. Silberman, 277 U. S. 1, 48 S. Ct. 410, 72 L. Ed. 749; Maguire v. Trefry, supra; compare Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. v. Minnesota, 280 U. S. 204, 50 S. Ct. 98, 74 L. Ed. 371, 65 A. L. R. 1000; First National Bank of Boston v. Maine, 284 U. S. 312, 52 S. Ct. 174, 76 L. Ed. 313.

The present tax has been defined by the Supreme Court of Mississippi as an excise and not a property tax, Hattiesburg Grocery Co. v. Robertson, 126 Miss. 34, 88 So. 4, 25 A. L. R. 748; Knox v. Gulf, M. & N. R. Co., 138 Miss. 70, 104 So. 689; but in passing on its constitutionality we are concerned only with its practical operation, not its definition or the precise form of descriptive words which may be applied to it. See Educational Films Corp. v. Ward, 282 U. S. 379, 387, 51 S. Ct. 170, 75 L. Ed. 400; Pacific Co., Ltd., v. Johnson, 285 U. S. 480, 52 S. Ct. 424, 76 L. Ed. —, decided April 11, 1932; Shaffer v. Carter, supra, pages 54, 55 of 252 U. S., 40 S. Ct. 221.

It is enough, so far as the constitutional power of the state to levy it is concerned, that the tax is imposed

Page 281

by Mississippi on its own citizens with reference to the receipt and enjoyment of income derived from the conduct of business, regardless of the place where it is carried on. The tax, which is apportioned to the ability of the taxpayer to bear it, is founded upon the protection afforded to the recipient of the income by the state, in his person, in his right to receive the income, and in his enjoyment of it when received. These are rights and privileges incident to his domicile in the state and to them the economic interest realized by the receipt...

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269 practice notes
  • Fernwood Lumber Co. v. Mississippi State Tax Commission, 30655
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • September 25, 1933
    ...v. Ahrens (Ark.), 271 S.W. 721. The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment is not violated. Lawrence v. State Tax Commission, 286 U.S. 276; Ohio Oil Co. v. Conway, 281 U.S. 146, 159; Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas, 217 U.S. 114, 121; Brown Forman Co. v. Kentucky, 217 U.S. 563, 5......
  • Artophone Corporation v. Coale, No. 36439.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 1939
    ...(a) History of the Income Tax Act. Ludlow-Saylor Wire Co. v. Wollbrinck, 205 S.W. 196, 275 Mo. 339; Lawrence v. Miss. State Tax Comm., 286 U.S. 276, 76 L. Ed. 1102, 52 Sup. Ct. 566; James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U.S. 134, 82 L. Ed. 155; Sec. 13106, Laws 1929, p. 424; Stouffer v. Crawf......
  • United Illuminating Co. v. City of New Haven
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • October 6, 1980
    ...test. Liggett Co. v. Lee, 288 U.S. 517, 533, 53 S.Ct. 481, 484, 77 L.Ed. 929 (1933); Lawrence v. State Tax Commission of Mississippi, 286 U.S. 276, 283, 52 S.Ct. 556, 558, 76 L.Ed. 1102 (1932). Simply because we are confronted with a case involving the assessment value of property for the p......
  • Coeur D'Alene Tribe of Idaho v. Hammond, No. 02-35965.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 19, 2004
    ...been "no change in the substance of the tax[.]" Hammond, 224 F.Supp.2d at 1270-71. See also Lawrence v. State Tax Comm'n of Mississippi, 286 U.S. 276, 280, 52 S.Ct. 556, 76 L.Ed. 1102 (1932) ("The present tax has been defined by the Supreme Court of Mississippi as an excise and not a proper......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
269 cases
  • Fernwood Lumber Co. v. Mississippi State Tax Commission, 30655
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • September 25, 1933
    ...v. Ahrens (Ark.), 271 S.W. 721. The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment is not violated. Lawrence v. State Tax Commission, 286 U.S. 276; Ohio Oil Co. v. Conway, 281 U.S. 146, 159; Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas, 217 U.S. 114, 121; Brown Forman Co. v. Kentucky, 217 U.S. 563, 5......
  • Artophone Corporation v. Coale, No. 36439.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 1939
    ...(a) History of the Income Tax Act. Ludlow-Saylor Wire Co. v. Wollbrinck, 205 S.W. 196, 275 Mo. 339; Lawrence v. Miss. State Tax Comm., 286 U.S. 276, 76 L. Ed. 1102, 52 Sup. Ct. 566; James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U.S. 134, 82 L. Ed. 155; Sec. 13106, Laws 1929, p. 424; Stouffer v. Crawf......
  • United Illuminating Co. v. City of New Haven
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • October 6, 1980
    ...test. Liggett Co. v. Lee, 288 U.S. 517, 533, 53 S.Ct. 481, 484, 77 L.Ed. 929 (1933); Lawrence v. State Tax Commission of Mississippi, 286 U.S. 276, 283, 52 S.Ct. 556, 558, 76 L.Ed. 1102 (1932). Simply because we are confronted with a case involving the assessment value of property for the p......
  • Coeur D'Alene Tribe of Idaho v. Hammond, No. 02-35965.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 19, 2004
    ...been "no change in the substance of the tax[.]" Hammond, 224 F.Supp.2d at 1270-71. See also Lawrence v. State Tax Comm'n of Mississippi, 286 U.S. 276, 280, 52 S.Ct. 556, 76 L.Ed. 1102 (1932) ("The present tax has been defined by the Supreme Court of Mississippi as an excise and not a proper......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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