State ex rel. McKittrick v. Bair

Citation63 S.W.2d 64,333 Mo. 1
Decision Date23 June 1933
Docket Number33115
PartiesState of Missouri at the relation of Roy McKittrick, Attorney-General, Relator, v. Frank W. Bair, Collector of Revenue of Jasper County
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri

Alternative writ made peremptory.

Roy McKittrick, Attorney-General, Edw. C. Crow, Covell Hewitt and Harry G. Waltner, Jr., Assistant Attorney-Generals, for relator.

(1) Senate Bill No. 80 embraces the whole State and relates to a well and clearly defined class, delinquent taxpayers, and such classification is not arbitrary but on a reasonable basis. Ewing v. Hoblitzelle, 85 Mo. 64; Dunne v Ry. Co., 131 Mo. 1; State ex rel. Moseley v Lee, 319 Mo. 976; Miners Bank v. Clark, 252 Mo 20; Commissioners v. Hamersley, 204 P. 445. (a) Delinquent tax laws and legislation relating to tax delinquents as a class have been recognized as valid general laws and have taken the form of general laws as a rule ever since Missouri has been a State and have carried penalties for tax delinquency. Territorial Laws of Mo., 1815, ch. 140 Art. 21; 2 Laws 1825, p. 674; R. S. 1835; R. S. 1848, p. 941; R. S. 1855, Art. 5, ch. 135; R. S. 1865, chs. 11-12-13; Laws 1872, p. 117; R. S. 1879, Art. 6, ch. 145; R. S. 1889, Art 6, ch. 138; R. S. 1899, Art. 6, ch. 149; R. S. 1909, Art. 8, ch. 117; R. S. 1919; Art. 9, ch. 119; R. S. 1929, Art. 9, ch. 59; State ex rel. Maguire v. Draper, State Auditor, 47 Mo. 29; State ex rel. v. Maguire, Collector, 47 Mo. 35; State ex rel. v. Ry. Co., 89 Mo. 570; Watson Seminary v. Pike County Court, 149 Mo. 57; State ex rel. Ferguson v. Moss, 69 Mo. 495; State ex rel. Bauer v. Edwards, 162 Mo. 660. (b) A delinquent tax law is a general law within the meaning of the State Constitution, because its subject matter does or may exist in or affect every part of the State. 59 C. J. p. 734, sec. 321; Pump v. County Commissioners, 69 Ohio St. 448, 69 N.E. 666. (2) Senate Bill No. 80 is a general law applicable to the whole State. The act relates to all delinquent taxpayers and does not relate to particular delinquent taxpayers. State v. Bishop, 128 Mo. 385; State ex rel. Sekyra v. Schmoll, 313 Mo. 706; State ex rel. Daily Record v. Hartman, 299 Mo. 410; State ex rel. Kemper v. Ry. Co., 79 Mo. 420; State ex rel. Kemper v. Ry. Co., 9 Mo.App. 532; State ex inf. Barker v. Southern, 265 Mo. 275; Forgrave v. Buchanan Co., 282 Mo. 607. (3) Senate Bill 80 does not relinquish any taxes and does not purport to do so, nor prevent the bringing of a suit at any time for the collection of the taxes, and the only effect thereof is to relieve from the penalties for nonpayment of taxes. Suit for the delinquent taxes can be commenced at any time regardless of the provisions of Senate Bill 80, and judgments rendered. The only thing Senate Bill 80 does is to give taxpayer the right to pay on terms set out in Senate Bill 80. State ex rel. Bauer, Collector, v. Edwards, Executor, 162 Mo. 660. (4) Missouri Supreme Court holds interest on delinquent taxes is penalty. St. Francis Levee District v. Dorroh, 316 Mo. 398; also, 316 Mo. 413; Eyerman v. Blaksley, 78 Mo. 145; St. Louis to use, etc. v. Allen, 53 Mo. 44. (5) Interest, costs and commissions added for nonpayment of taxes is recognized as penalty both by our Missouri courts and by our statutes. Laws 1895, p. 243; R. S. 1919, sec. 4397; Levee Dist. v. Dorroh, 316 Mo. 411; St. Louis v. Allen, 53 Mo. 44. (a) The penalty being not a part of the tax is subject to legislative control. 4 Cooley on Taxation (4 Ed.) sec. 1821, p. 3573; Sedgwick Co. v. City of Wichita, 62 Kan. 704, 64 P. 621; State ex rel. v. Dinwiddie, 83 Okla. 181, 200 P. 1002; Commissioners v. City of Clinton, 49 Okla. 795, 154 P. 513; State ex rel. v. Ry. Co., 89 Mo. 570; Barnett v. Railroad Co., 68 Mo. 63; State ex rel. Maguire v. Draper, State Auditor, 47 Mo. 34. (b) The penalty upon a delinquent tax is not created by the levy of the tax, and as the Legislature creates the penalty, it can remit it the same as fines and penalties arising from violation of other laws. Commissioners v. City of Clinton, 49 Okla. 797; Kansas City v. Stewart, 90 Kan. 849; 25 C. J. 1213; Maryland v. Baltimore, 3 How. 534; Coles v. Madison Co., 1 Ill. 154; State to the use of W. County v. Railroad Co., 12 Gill & Johnson, 400; State ex rel. v. Ry. Co., 89 Mo. 570. (c) The repeal or suspension of a law imposing a penalty is of itself a remission. Maryland v. Railroad Co., 3 How. 534; United States v. Ship Helen, 6 Cranch, 203; 1 Cranch, 104; 5 Cranch, 281; Maryland v. Railroad Co., 3 How. 552. (d) Penalties imposed on delinquent taxpayers are "fines" within the meaning of a constitutional provision declaring excessive fines shall not be imposed. 3 Cooley on Taxation (4 Ed.) p. 2542, sec. 1273; State v. Railroad Co., 100 Tex. 153, 97 S.W. 71. (6) No vested right of respondents to the penalty, costs and commissions is acquired until final judgment for same is rendered or collection made, and the weight of authority is the right to penalty may be taken away any time before plaintiff is entitled to execution on judgment as matter of right. Yeaton v. United States, 5 Cranch, 281; Anderson v. Byrnes, 122 Cal. 272, 54 P. 821; Speckert v. Louisville, 78 Ky. 287; Lewis v. Foster, 1 N.H. 61; 12 C. J. sec. 556, pp. 973-4; Railway Co. v. Wells, 65 Ohio 316; Railroad Co. v. Austin, 21 Mich. 390; United States v. Morris, 10 Wheat. 305; Confiscation Cases, 7 Wall. 462; Norris v. Crocker, 13 How. 441; Maryland v. Railroad Co., 3 How. 552; Yeaton v. United States 5 Cranch, 281; 25 C. J. pp. 1213-14, sec. 160; 12 C. J. p. 973, sec. 556. (a) Respondents are not entitled to penalties, interest, fees and costs except in cases where claim for delinquent taxes has been reduced to final judgment or collected prior to effective date of operation of Senate Bill No. 80. Jones v. Williams, 45 S.W.2d 130, 79 A. L. R. 983; Livesay v. D'Armond, 134 Ore. 563, 284 P. 166, 68 L. R. A. 422; State v. Coos Co., 115 Ore. 300, 237 P. 678; 3 Cooley on Taxation, sec. 1273, p. 2535; Butler v. Pennsylvania, 10 How. 402; Cooley's Constitutional Limitations (8 Ed.) pp. 754, 755, 756, 794; State ex rel. Bauer v. Edwards, 162 Mo. 660; Yeaton v. United States, 5 Cranch, 281. (b) A penalty given by statute may be taken away by statute at any time before final judgment is recovered or penalty collected. Livesay v. D'Armond, 134 Ore. 563, 284 P. 166, 68 L. R. A. 422; State v. Coos Co., 115 Ore. 300, 237 P. 678; Adams v. Fragiacoma, 15 So. 798; 3 Cooley on Taxation, sec. 1273, p. 2535; Jones v. Williams, 45 S.W.2d 130, 79 A. L. R. 983; Maryland v. B. & O. Ry. Co., 3 How. 534; Railroad Co. v. Wells, 65 Ohio St. 313, 62 N.E. 332, 58 L. R. A. 651; Com. v. Standard Oil Co., 101 Pa. 119; State v. Mayor of Jersey City, 37 N. J. L. 39; Butler v. Pennsylvania, 10 How. 402; Cooley's Constitutional Limitations (8 Ed.) pp. 754, 755, 756, 794; Oriental Bank v. Freeze, 18 Me. 109; Commonwealth v. Standard Oil Co., 101 Pa. 150; Secs. 9952-9969, R. S. 1929; State ex rel. Bauer v. Edwards, 162 Mo. 660; State ex rel. Ferguson v. Moss, 69 Mo. 495. (c) Even after judgment in trial court, penalty may be remitted any time before plaintiff is entitled as matter of right to his execution on the judgment. Yeaton v. United States, 5 Cranch, 281; Anderson v. Byrnes, 122 Cal. 272; Speckert v. Louisville, 78 Ky. 287; Lewis v. Foster, 1 N.H. 61. (7) No vested right of the respondents was violated by enactment of Senate Bill 80. The Legislature had the right to remit interest, costs and penalties and fees at the time the respondents accepted offices now held by them; and respondents' right to interest, fees, penalties and costs in delinquent tax matters is subordinate to the power of the States to remit same and no rights of respondents vest until a judgment is entered for the delinquent tax, costs, fees, interest, and penalties. Confiscation cases, 7 Wall. 454; 12 C. J. 973; Maryland v. Railroad Co., 3 How. 534; Butler v. Pennsylvania, 10 How. 402; Cooley's Constitutional Limitations (8 Ed.) pp. 754, 755, 756, 794; Jones v. Williams, 45 S.W.2d 131, 79 A. L. R. 983; 3 Cooley on Taxation, sec. 1273, p. 678. (8) The accrual of or commencement of a suit for a forfeiture, fine or penalty imposed by statute does not give a vested right thereto which the Legislature may not take away or impair. 12 C. J. sec. 556, p. 973, confiscation cases, pp. 459-462, 7 Wall. 454, 19 L.Ed. 196; Maryland v. Railroad Co., 3 How. 534, 11 L.Ed. 714; United States v. Morris, 10 Wheat. 246, 6 L.Ed. 314; Yeaton v. United States, 5 Cranch, 281, 3 L.Ed. 101; Royston v. Miller, 76 F. 50; Pollock v. The Laura, 5 F. 133; Brown v. United States, 1 Woodw. 198; United States v. Lancaster, 4 Wash. 64; Walter v. Bacon, 8 Mass. 468; Lyon v. Morris, 15 Ga. 480; Cushman v. Hale, 68 Vt. 444, 35 A. 382; Pope v. Lewis, 4 Ala. 487; 25 C. J. p. 1213, secs. 156-160; Jones v. Shores, 1 Wheat. 473; Anderson v. Byrnes, 122 Cal. 272, 54 P. 821; Atwood v. Buckingham, 78 Conn. 423, 62 A. 616; Welch v. Wadsworth, 30 Conn. 149; O'Kelly v. Athens Mfg. Co., 36 Ga. 51; St. Mary's Bank v. State, 12 Ga. 475; Mix v. Railroad Co., 116 Ill. 502, 6 N.E. 42; Railroad Co. v. Adler, 56 Ill. 344; Thompson v. Bassett, 5 Ind. 535; State v. Youmans, 5 Ind. 280; Tobin v. Hartshorn, 69 Iowa 649, 29 N.W. 764; Potter v. Sturdivant, 4 Me. 154; Railroad Co. v. Austin, 21 Mich. 390; Davidson v. Witthaus, 106 A.D. 182; West Troy Fire Dept. v. Ogden, 59 How. Pr. 21; Butler v. Palmer, 1 Hill, 324; Dyer v. Ellington, 126 N.C. 941, 36 S.E. 177; Railroad Co. v. Wells, 65 Ohio St. 313, 62 N.E. 332, 58 L. R. A. 651. (9) Missouri Legislature has construed the Constitution as giving it power to remit fines and penalties by general law and the Supreme Court has sustained the Missouri Legislature in the construction. State ex rel. Ferguson v. Moss, 69 Mo. 495...

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