Pacific Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtTRAYNOR; GIBSON; McCOMB; SCHAUER
Citation49 Cal.2d 729,321 P.2d 729
PartiesPACIFIC PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY (a Corporation), Plaintiff and Respondent, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION of the State of California, Defendant and Appellant. L. A. 24146.
Decision Date21 February 1958

Page 729

321 P.2d 729
49 Cal.2d 729
PACIFIC PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY (a Corporation), Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION of the State of California, Defendant and Appellant.
L. A. 24146.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
Feb. 21, 1958.

Page 730

[49 Cal.2d 730] Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., James E. Sabine, Asst. Atty. Gen., Ernest P. Goodman, Dan Kaufmann and James C. Maupin, Deputy Attys. Gen., for appellant.

Thomas A. Wood and Larwill & Wolfe, Los Angeles, for respondent.

TRAYNOR, Justice.

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered in favor of plaintiff in an action for a refund of certain sales taxes, interest and penalties paid under protest, after trial before the court without a jury.

Although other issues were tried in the action, the sole question presented on this appeal is whether plaintiff is required to pay a sales tax with respect to a certain transfer to Pacific Pipeline & Engineers, Ltd., by plaintiff on March 14, 1949, of machinery and equipment valued at $201,230.50. [49 Cal.2d 731] Defendant determined that plaintiff was required to pay a tax of $6,491.78.

Prior to February 24, 1949, plaintiff and Engineers, Ltd., jointly owned Pacific Pipeline & Engineers, Ltd., which was engaged in the pipeline construction business. On February 24, 1949, an agreement was entered into by the three corporations and certain individuals providing for a reorganization of Pacific Pipeline & Engineers, Ltd., and plaintiff and for a territorial division of the pipeline business. On March 12, 1949, plaintiff entered into an agreement with Pacific Pipeline & Engineers, Ltd., providing for the exchange of certain properties to carry out the agreement of February 24th, and on March 14, 1949, the exchange occurred. The trial court determined that the sale was an occasional sale under sections 6367 and 6006.5 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

The transfer in question was unquestionably a sale 1 at retail 2 of tangible personal property. It is conceded that the gross receipts from the sale must be included in the measure of the tax imposed by SECTION 6051 OF THE REVENUE AND TAXATION CODE3, unless the sale was an occasional sale

Page 731

under sections 6367 4 and 6006.5. Section 6019 5 was enacted [49 Cal.2d 732] subsequent to the transfer here involved and is therefore not considered.

Section 6006.5 defines an occasional sale as follows: "Occasional sale' includes: (a) A sale of property not held or used by a seller in the course of an activity for which he is required to hold a seller's permit, provided such sale is not one of a series of sales sufficient in number, scope and character to constitute an activity requiring the holding of a seller's permit; (b) Any transfer of all or substantially all the property held or used by a person in the course of such an activity when after such transfer the real or ultimate ownership of such property is substantially similar to that which existed before such transfer. For the purposes of this section, stockholders, bondholders, partners, or other persons holding an interest in a corporation or other entity are regarded as having the 'real or ultimate ownership' of the property of such corporation or other entity.'

The undisputed evidence shows that the sale was one of a series of sales sufficient in number, scope and character to constitute an activity requiring the holding of a seller's permit and was therefore not an occasional sale under subdivision (a) of section 6006.5. Plaintiff's own evidence shows that in 19 separate sales, in addition to the sale in question, it sold at various times from 1947 through 1950, 65 items of equipment for a total of $41,879.22. Three sales took place within six months preceding the sale in question and two in the month following. The items sold from 1947 to 1950 included trucks, automobiles, generators, a compressor, a steam cleaner, cranes, trailers, tar pots, and a dynamometer. The items sold in the sale in question included trucks, an automobile, generators, compressors, steam cleaners, cranes and crane attachments, trailers, and tar pots.

Although they involved sales prior to the enactment of section 6006.5 the following cases are directly in point, for they involved essentially the same question that section 6006.5(a) presents, namely, was the sale one of a series of sales sufficient in number, scope and character to constitute an activity requiring the seller to hold a seller's permit. In fact, the words of the statute 'number, scope and character' were apparently taken from this court's opinion in Northwestern Pacific R. R. Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 21 Cal.2d 524, 529, 133 P.2d 400. That case held that five sales of rolling stock over a three year period for about $100,000 could not be regarded as casual or isolated sales, [49 Cal.2d 733] and that the seller was therefore a retailer and the tax applied. Market Street Ry. Co. v. California State Board of Equalization, 137 Cal.App.2d 87, 95, 290 P.2d 20, 25, involved about 900 sales totaling about $100,000 during a 15 year period. Considering the 'number, scope, and character of the transfers,' the court held the seller to be a retailer. Los Angeles City High School District v. State Board of Equalization, 71 Cal.App.2d 486, 488, 489, 163 P.2d 45, held that sales of buildings, improvements, and equipment not needed by the school districts, averaging two to three sales per

Page 732

quarter over a three year period were sufficient to make the sellers retailers and subject to the tax. Moreover, Sutter Packing Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 139 Cal.App.2d 889, 895-896, 294 P.2d 1083, 1087, involving a sale after the enactment of section 6006.5, held that a sale consummated on June 1, 1949, was one of a series and that he gross receipts therefrom must be included in the measure of the tax although they totaled $700,000 and the gross receipts from the largest sale since 1945 had totaled only $12,063.69. The court there stated: 'There appears to be nothing, however, inherently different in the nature of the items sold in the final sales than in the earlier sales of used equipment, although it is true that it was a much larger sale of a greater variety of items.'

It is immaterial whether or not the property transferred was used for field operations. Moreover, not only is there no evidence that the various sales to others were not sales of field equipment, but plaintiff's own exhibits disclose that the property transferred was the sort of property in which plaintiff dealt as a seller. Thus, plaintiff's list of items in the sale to Pacific Pipeline & Engineers, Ltd., includes 80 trucks, 1 automobile, 33 generators, 31 tar pots, 25 trailers, 3 cranes and 16 crane attachments, 3 steam cleaners, 20 compressors and 1 dynamometer and its list of retail seles to others includes 36 trucks, 13 automobiles, 4 generators, 2 tar pots, 3 trailers, 2 cranes, 1 steam cleaner, 1 compressor, and 1 dynamometer. Nor is it material that there were no similar sales between the two corporations, for in any series of sales by a retailer there is ordinarily a different purchaser in each sale, and the fact that the sales are not to the same purchaser serves to demonstrate 'an activity requiring the holding of a seller's permit.' Furthermore, the fact that three corporations were involved in the whole deal has no bearing on the question whether the sale was 'one of a series,' but is relevant only in determining [49 Cal.2d 734] whether it was an occasional sale under subdivision (b) of section 6006.5.

Plaintiff has not met the burden of proof placed upon it by SECTION 6091 OF THE REVENUE AND TAXATION CODE6 to show that the sale was an occasional sale under subdivision (b) of section 6006.5. The reorganization pursuant to which the sale took place was not a liquidation, but a territorial division of the 'pipeline business' between two corporations. There is no finding and no evidence that the sale involved all or substantially all of the property held or used by the plaintiff. Plaintiff's allegations and proof and the court's findings indicate only that the transfer was an exchange of 'certain properties' and 'certain equipment' and the reorganization agreement expressly excludes an undisclosed amount of plaintiff's property from the transfer. Moreover, there is no finding and no evidence that the real or ultimate ownership of...

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23 practice notes
  • Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Emp., Laundry Drivers and Helpers Local No. 88, No. 88
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 26, 1960
    ...26 Cal.2d 453, 456, 159 P.2d 630; Sapp. v. Barenfeld, 34 Cal.2d 515, 518, 212 P.2d 233; Pac. Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. of Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 735-736, 321 P.2d 729; McNeil v. Board of Retirement, 51 Cal.2d 278, 284-285, 332 P.2d The undisputed evidence establishes plaintiff's back......
  • Bank of America Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. State Bd. ofEqualization
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 20, 1962
    ...Tractor Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 199 Cal.App.2d 662, 18 Cal.Rptr. 800; Pacific Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 736, 321 P.2d 729; Estate of Madison, 26 Cal.2d 453, 456, 159 P.2d 630; Meyer v. State Board of Equalization, 42 Cal.2d 376, 381, 267 P.2d 257; D......
  • Besser Co. v. Bureau of Revenue, No. 7425
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • July 20, 1964
    ...Equalization of State of California, 21 Cal.2d 524, 133 P.2d 400; Pacific Pipeline Construction Company v. State Board of Equalization, 49 Cal.2d 729, 321 P.2d 729; Martin v. United States (C.C.A. 10), 100 F.2d 490; State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Brooks (C.C.A. 8), 136 F.2d 807; Ban......
  • Cohon v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 16, 1963
    ...Tractor Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 199 Cal.App.2d 662, 668, 18 Cal.Rptr. 800; Pac. Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 736, 321 P.2d 729; Bank of America v. State Bd. of Equal., 209 A.C.A. 901, 914, 26 Cal.Rptr. 348.) Similarly, the construction of a written ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Emp., Laundry Drivers and Helpers Local No. 88, No. 88
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 26, 1960
    ...26 Cal.2d 453, 456, 159 P.2d 630; Sapp. v. Barenfeld, 34 Cal.2d 515, 518, 212 P.2d 233; Pac. Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. of Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 735-736, 321 P.2d 729; McNeil v. Board of Retirement, 51 Cal.2d 278, 284-285, 332 P.2d The undisputed evidence establishes plaintiff's back......
  • Bank of America Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n v. State Bd. ofEqualization
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 20, 1962
    ...Tractor Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 199 Cal.App.2d 662, 18 Cal.Rptr. 800; Pacific Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 736, 321 P.2d 729; Estate of Madison, 26 Cal.2d 453, 456, 159 P.2d 630; Meyer v. State Board of Equalization, 42 Cal.2d 376, 381, 267 P.2d 257; D......
  • Besser Co. v. Bureau of Revenue, No. 7425
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • July 20, 1964
    ...Equalization of State of California, 21 Cal.2d 524, 133 P.2d 400; Pacific Pipeline Construction Company v. State Board of Equalization, 49 Cal.2d 729, 321 P.2d 729; Martin v. United States (C.C.A. 10), 100 F.2d 490; State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Brooks (C.C.A. 8), 136 F.2d 807; Ban......
  • Cohon v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 16, 1963
    ...Tractor Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 199 Cal.App.2d 662, 668, 18 Cal.Rptr. 800; Pac. Pipeline Const. Co. v. State Bd. Equal., 49 Cal.2d 729, 736, 321 P.2d 729; Bank of America v. State Bd. of Equal., 209 A.C.A. 901, 914, 26 Cal.Rptr. 348.) Similarly, the construction of a written ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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