State Railroad Tax Cases Taylor, Collector Et Al v. Secor Et Al Miller, Collector Et Al v. Jessup Et Al Miller, Collector Et Al v. Kidder Et Al

Decision Date01 October 1875
Citation92 U.S. 575,23 L.Ed. 663
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

APPEALS from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois.

These were bills of injunction to restrain the collection of taxes assessed on certain railroads in the State of Illinois, and, as they raised the same questions of law, were heard together. The complainants in the first-mentioned case are trustees and mortgagees of the Toledo, Peoria, and Warsaw Railroad Company; in the second, stockholders in the Chicago and Alton Railroad Company; and in the third, stockholders in the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Company.

To a proper understanding of the questions raised, reference is necessary to the following provisions of the constitution and statutes of the State of Illinois.

Sects. 1, 6, 9, and 10 of art. 9, and sect. 10 of art. 11, of the constitution, declare:——

'ART. 9, SECT. 1. The general assembly shall provide such revenue as may be needful by levying a tax, by valuation, so that every person and corporation shall pay a tax in proportion to the value of his, her, or its property,—such value to be ascertained by some person or persons, to be elected or appointed in such manner as the general assembly shall direct, and not otherwise; but the general assembly shall have power to tax pedlers, auctioneers, brokers, hawkers, merchants, commission-merchants, showmen, jugglers, innkeepers, grocery-keepers, liquor-dealers, toll-bridges, ferries, insurance, telegraph, and express interests or business, vendors of patents, and persons or corporations owning or using franchises and privileges, in such manner as it shall, from time to time, direct by general law, uniform as to the class upon which it operates.'

'SECT. 6. The general assembly shall have no power to release or discharge any county, city, township, town, or district whatever, or the inhabitants thereof, or the property therein, from their or its proportionate share of taxes to be levied for State purposes; nor shall commutation for such taxes be authorized in any form whatever.'

'SECT. 9. The general assembly may vest the corporate authorities of cities, towns, and villages, with power to make local improvements by special assessment or by special taxation of contiguous property, or otherwise. For all other corporate purposes, all municipal corporations may be vested with authority to assess and collect taxes; but such taxes shall be uniform in respect to persons and property within the jurisdiction of the body imposing the same.

'SECT. 10. The general assembly shall not impose taxes upon municipal corporations, or the inhabitants or property thereof, for corporate purposes, but shall require that all the taxable property within the limits of municipal corporations shall be taxed for the payment of debts contracted under authority of law, such taxes to be uniform in respect to persons and property within the jurisdiction of the body imposing the same.'

'ART. 11, SECT. 10. The rolling-stock and all other movable property belonging to any railroad company or corporation in this State shall be considered personal property.'

'An Act for the assessment of property and for the collection of taxes,' approved March 30, 1872, in force July 1, 1872, among other provisions contains the following:——

'SECT. 3. Personal property shall be valued as follows:——

'First, All personal property, except as herein otherwise directed, shall be valued at its fair cash value.

'Second, Every credit, for a sum certain, payable either in money or labor, shall be valued at a fair cash value for the sum so payable; if for any article of property, or for labor, or services of any kind, it shall be valued at the current price of such property, labor, or service.

'Third, Annuities and royalties shall be valued at their then present total value.

'Fourth, The capital stock of all companies and associations, now or hereafter created under the laws of this State, shall be so valued by the State board of equalization as to ascertain and determine, respectively, the fair cash value of such capital stock, including the franchise, over and above the assessed value of the tangible property of such company or association. Said board shall adopt such rules and principles for ascertaining the fair cash value of such capital stock as to it may seem equitable and just; and such rules and principles, when so adopted, if not inconsistent with this act, shall be as binding and of the same effect as if contained in this act, subject, however, to such change, alteration, or amendment as may be found, from time to time, to be necessary by said board: Provided, that, in all cases where the tangible property or capital stock of any company or association is assessed under this act, the shares of capital stock of any such company or association shall not be assessed or taxed in this State. This clause shall not apply to the capital stock, or shares of capital stock, of banks organized under the general banking laws of this State.'- 'SECT. 6. Personal property shall be listed in the manner following:——

* * * * *

'Eighth, The property of a body politic or corporate, by the president, or proper agent or officer thereof.'

'SECT. 7. Personal property, except such as is required in this act to be listed and assessed otherwise, shall be listed and assessed in the county, town, city, village, or district where the owner resides. The capital stock and franchises of corporations and persons, except as may be otherwise provided, shall be listed and taxed in the county, town, district, city, or village where the principal office or place of business of such corporation or person is located in this State.'

'SECT. 26. Whenever the assessor shall be of opinion that the person listing property for himself, or for any other person, company, or corporation, has not made a full, fair, and complete schedule of such property, he may examine such person under oath in regard to the amount of property he is required to schedule; and for that purpose he is authorized to administer oaths: and if such person shall refuse to answer under oath, and a full discovery make, the assessor may list the property of such person, or his principal, according to his best judgment and information.'

'SECT. 40. Every person, company, or corporation, owning, operating, or constructing a railroad in this State, shall return sworn lists or schedules of the taxable property of such railroad, as hereinafter provided. Such property shall be listed and assessed with reference to the amount, kind, and value on the first day of May of the year in which it is listed.'

'SECT. 41. They shall, in the month of May of the year eighteen hundred and seventy-three, and at the same time in each year thereafter, when required, make out and file with the county-clerks of the respective counties in which the railroad may be located, a statement or schedule showing the property held for right of way, and the length of the main and all side and second tracks and turnouts in such county, and in each city, town, and village in the county, through or into which the road may run, and describing each tract of land, other than a city, town, or village lot, through which the road may run, in accordance with the United States surveys, giving the width and length of the strip of land held in each tract, and the number of acres thereof. They shall also state the value of improvements and stations located on the right of way. New companies shall make such statement in May next after the location of their roads. When such statement shall have been once made, it shall not be necessary to report the description as hereinbefore required, unless directed so to do by the county board; but the company shall, during the month of May, annually, report the value of such property by the description set forth in the next section of this act, and note all additions or changes in such right of way as shall have occurred.

'SECT. 42. Such right of way, including the superstructures of main, side, or second tracks and turnouts, and the stations and improvements of the railroad company on such right of way, shall be held to be real estate for the purposes of taxation, and denominated 'railroad track,' and shall be so listed and valued; and shall be described in the assessment thereof as a strip of land extending on each side of such railroad track, and embracing the same, together with all the stations and improvements thereon, commencing at a point where such railroad track crosses the boundary line in entering the county, city, town, or village, and extending to the point where such track crosses the boundary line leaving such county, city, town, or village, or to the point of termination in the same, as the case may be, containing—acres, more or less (inserting name of county, township, city, town, or village, boundary line of same, and number of acres, and length in feet); and, when advertised or sold for taxes, no other description shall be necessary.

'SECT. 43. The value of the 'railroad track' shall be listed and taxed in the several counties, towns, villages, districts, and cities in the proportion that the length of the main track in such county, town, village, district, or city bears to the whole length of the road in this State, except the value of the side or second track, and all turnouts, and all station-houses, d ep ots, machine-shops, or other buildings belonging to the road, which shall be taxed in the county, town, village, district, or city in which the same are located.

'SECT. 44. The movable property belonging to a railroad company shall be held to be personal property, and denominated, for the purpose of taxation, 'rolling-stock.' Every person, company, or corporation, owning, constructing, or operating a...

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