Sprague v. Fletcher

Citation69 Vt. 69, 37 A. 239
Case DateMay 31, 1896
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont
37 A. 239
69 Vt. 69

SPRAGUE
v.
FLETCHER.

Supreme Court of Vermont. Rutland.

May Term, 1896.


37 A. 240

Exceptions from Rutland county court; Thompson, Judge.

Trover and case by Nathan T. Sprague against William C. Fletcher for the sale by defendant, as tax collector, of plaintiff's bank stock. There was judgment on a verdict directed for plaintiff, and defendant excepted. Affirmed.

C. A. Prouty, for plaintiff.

Stewart & Wilds and J. C. Baker, for defendant.

START, J. The evidence tended to show that the defendant had authority to collect several taxes that were assessed against the plaintiff on the grand list of the town of Brandon for the year 1893; that he duly distrained, posted, and sold the bank stock declared for, in accordance with the requirements of No. 11 of the Acts of 1882; that the plaintiff purchased the same at the official sale thereof, and paid therefor; that the defendant made due return of his proceedings, and delivered duly-attested copies thereof to the clerk and cashier of the bank issuing the stock; and that no transfer of the stock was made upon the books of the bank, and no certificate of transfer issued. At the close of the evidence, the defendant insisted that an invasion by the defendant of the plaintiff's right in the stock had not been shown, and, upon this ground, moved for a verdict. This motion was denied, and the defendant excepted The defendant now insists that the motion should have been granted, because the stock was not transferred upon the books of the bank, and a certificate of transfer issued to the plaintiff. We think this motion was properly denied.

When the defendant delivered copies of his tax warrants, with his return thereon duly attested, in accordance with the requirements of No. 11 of the Acts of 1882, it became the duty of the proper officers of the bank to transfer the stock upon the books of the bank, and issue a certificate of transfer thereof to the purchaser named in the defendant's return. This was not done, because the stock then stood in the name of the purchaser upon the books of the bank. There was no occasion for such transfer and issue of a certificate. The defendant's return showed that the plaintiff became the purchaser at the official sale of the stock, and his title was perfect without such transfer and certificate. The defendant could not transfer the stock upon the books of the bank, or issue a certificate of transfer thereof. When he had distrained it, posted it for sale at public auction, offered it for sale to the highest bidder, sold it to the plaintiff (because he was such bidder and paid therefor), and made return of his doings as the law requires, he had invaded the plaintiff's right in the stock, and done all he could to divest the plaintiff of all title to it, except the title acquired by its purchase from him. He had compelled the plaintiff to become the purchaser thereof, or submit to having his stock sold to a stranger, transferred upon the books of the bank, and a certificate of transfer thereof issued, which would place it beyond his reach or control for a time, if not permanently, or to institute legal proceedings to prevent such sale and transfer thereof. The plaintiff has paid the defendant for the stock. He has done this, not as a volunteer, but because the defendant, in his official capacity, by invoking the aid of the law, has compelled him to do so, or stay the hand of the defendant by resort to equity for an injunction, or suffer his stock to pass out of his control to an extent that would for a time, at least, deprive him of dividends thereon, and preclude him from voting and participating in the business and management of the affairs of the bank to the extent that he otherwise would; and we think this was such an invasion of the plaintiff's right in the stock as was held actionable when this case was before us on demurrer to the declaration. Sprague v. Fletcher, 67 Vt. 46, 30 Atl. 693.

The plaintiff, whose domicile was in Brooklyn, N. Y., as the jury have found, claimed to be domiciled in Brandon, Vt, and duly returned to the listers of Brandon an inventory of his personal estate, and therein claimed a deduction for specified debts that he was owing, to the full amount of the appraised value of his personal estate. The listers treated him as a nonresident, and, in accordance with the provisions of No. 17 of the Acts of 1892, refused to make the deduction to the extent claimed, and placed his personal estate in the list at $65,640; and this sum entered into the list on which the taxes in question were assessed. The court below held that this statute was unconstitutional, and ordered a verdict for the plaintiff, to which the defendant excepted.

Section 12 of No. 2 of the Acts of 1882 provides that listers, in making up the lists of the several taxpayers, shall deduct from the appraised value of personal estate a sum equal, to the excess, if any, of debts owing by such taxpayer over the aggregate amount of his United States bonds and other stocks and bonds exempt from taxation by the laws of this state, and the amount of his deposits in all the savings banks, savings institutions, and trust companies in this state or elsewhere, and shall take 1 per cent. of the balance as the list of the personal estate of such taxpayer. This statute is general, and was applicable to lists of nonresident as well as resident taxpayers, until the act under which the listers proceeded was passed; and it would have been the duty of the listers to have proceeded under it, in making up the

37 A. 241

plaintiff's list, but for the later statute, which was enacted after the statute above cited had been in force some 10 years, and provides that no deduction shall be made for debts owing by a corporation or person residing without this state, and doing business within this state, except such as were contracted by reason of business done within this state, and which are in excess of cash on hand within and without this state, and sums due without this state by reason of business done within this state. Had the listers, in making up the plaintiff's list, proceeded under the statute first enacted, and made the deductions thereby authorized, no sum for personal estate would have remained for taxation; and the plaintiff would have been exempt from taxation to that extent. This statute remains in force, and under it a resident of this state is entitled to a deduction from the appraised value of his personal estate equal to all debts owing by him in excess of the value of his nontaxable bonds, stocks, and deposits; and, if these debts equal or exceed the appraised value of his personal estate, his personal estate is exempt from taxation. Under the later statute, this right, which had been for 10 years extended to nonresidents doing business in this state, is taken away; and the right remains only to a resident of this state. A nonresident doing business in this state is allowed a deduction from the appraised value of his personal estate for only such debts as' were contracted by reason of business done in this state, and these are diminished by sums due to him without this state by reason of business done in this state, and cash on hand within and without this state that may be the proceeds and accumulations of business done entirely without this state. This statute provides only for lists of nonresidents, and, because the plaintiff was a nonresident, the listers proceeded under it, and denied the claimed deductions in making his list, and, in so doing, denied to him an immunity from taxation that is given to our own citizens. If the listers had made the deduction from the valuation of the plaintiff's personal estate that is allowed to residents, they would have exempted the plaintiff's entire personal estate from taxation. By proceeding under the statute relating to nonresidents, the listers have assessed the plaintiff for property valued at $65,640 that they would have exempted from taxation if the plaintiff had been a resident of this state. The effect of the statute is to exempt from taxation all the personal estate of a resident of this state, except the excess in value of such estate over debts owing in excess of nontaxable bonds, stocks, and deposits, and to tax a nonresident's property, circumstanced the same, except that the owner resides out of the state; and, in so far as it does this, it provides an immunity from taxation to a resident that it denies to a nonresident,...

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9 practice notes
  • Colgate v. Harvey
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 14, 1934
    ...upon residence would be unlawful. A state cannot discriminate against a nonresident simply because he is a nonresident. Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt 69, 75, 37 A. 239, 37 L. R, A. 840; State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140, 154, 135 A. 705; Howe Machine Co. v. Gage, 175 A. 355 100 U. S. 676, 25 L. Ed.......
  • State v. Caplan
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 8, 1927
    ...421, 424. That one state cannot pass a valid 135 A. 711 tax law that discriminates against a nonresident is shown by Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69, 75, 37 A. 239, 37 L. R. A. 840. But all that this respondent can claim is that he is classed as and required to pay the same tax that a reside......
  • State ex rel. Bolens v. Frear
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 9, 1912
    ...relied on upon the same side are In re Stanford's Estate, 126 Cal. 112, 54 Pac. 259, 58 Pac. 462, 45 L. R. A. 788, and Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69, 37 Atl. 239, 37 L. R. A. 840, and the cases cited in the latter case. On the other side reliance is placed on the analogy of the laws provid......
  • Humphreys v. State, 8268
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 22, 1904
    ...176 Mass. 190; art. 4, sec. 2, Federal Const.; Louisiana v. Pilsbury, 105 U.S. 278; Mahoney's Estate, 133 Cal. 180; Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69; sec. 1978, U. S. Rev. Stat.; State v. Ferris, 53 Ohio St. 314; Ord. 1787, art. 4; Dos Passos, sec. 18; Lee v. Sturges, 46 Ohio St. 153; In re P......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Colgate v. Harvey
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 14, 1934
    ...upon residence would be unlawful. A state cannot discriminate against a nonresident simply because he is a nonresident. Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt 69, 75, 37 A. 239, 37 L. R, A. 840; State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140, 154, 135 A. 705; Howe Machine Co. v. Gage, 175 A. 355 100 U. S. 676, 25 L. Ed.......
  • State v. Caplan
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 8, 1927
    ...421, 424. That one state cannot pass a valid 135 A. 711 tax law that discriminates against a nonresident is shown by Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69, 75, 37 A. 239, 37 L. R. A. 840. But all that this respondent can claim is that he is classed as and required to pay the same tax that a reside......
  • State ex rel. Bolens v. Frear
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 9, 1912
    ...relied on upon the same side are In re Stanford's Estate, 126 Cal. 112, 54 Pac. 259, 58 Pac. 462, 45 L. R. A. 788, and Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69, 37 Atl. 239, 37 L. R. A. 840, and the cases cited in the latter case. On the other side reliance is placed on the analogy of the laws provid......
  • Humphreys v. State, 8268
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 22, 1904
    ...176 Mass. 190; art. 4, sec. 2, Federal Const.; Louisiana v. Pilsbury, 105 U.S. 278; Mahoney's Estate, 133 Cal. 180; Sprague v. Fletcher, 69 Vt. 69; sec. 1978, U. S. Rev. Stat.; State v. Ferris, 53 Ohio St. 314; Ord. 1787, art. 4; Dos Passos, sec. 18; Lee v. Sturges, 46 Ohio St. 153; In re P......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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