State v. Becker, No. 22938.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHigbee
Citation233 S.W. 54,288 Mo. 607
PartiesSTATE ex rel. McCLUNG v. BECKER, Secretary of State.
Decision Date08 July 1921
Docket NumberNo. 22938.
233 S.W. 54
288 Mo. 607
STATE ex rel. McCLUNG
v.
BECKER, Secretary of State.
No. 22938.
Supreme Court of Missouri, in Banc.
July 8, 1921.

[233 S.W. 55]

Original application by the State, on the relation of D. C. McClung, for a writ of mandamus directed to Charles J. Becker, Secretary of State of the state of Missouri. Writ denied.

Irwin & Haley, of Jefferson City, for relator.

Jesse W. Barrett, Atty. Gen., and Merrill E. Otis, Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

HIGBEE, J.


This is an application for a writ of mandamus directed to respondent, commanding him to register in his office relator's automobile truck, authorizing him to operate said car upon the public highways of the state of Missouri, upon the payment of a fee of $1. The petition, in substance, avers that relator is a resident of Jefferson City, Cole county, Mo.; that he is the owner of a Kelly-Springfield motortruck, which he operates and drives upon the public highways of this state; that said motortruck is propelled by a gas engine, has four cylinders, 4½" bore, and that the horse power of said motortruck is 30 h. p.; that on May 27, 1921, he presented to the respondent, Secretary of State, an application in due form for the registration of said motortruck, on a blank furnished by the Secretary of State for that purpose, which it is admitted was in accordance with section 7553, R. S. 1919, and tendered to the said respondent a fee of $1 for the registration of said truck, but that said respondent refused to register said truck unless the said relator paid to the said respondent, for the use and benefit of the state of Missouri, a registration fee of $10 in accordance with the schedule provided in section 7558, relating to motor vehicles; that the action of the respondent in refusing to register said automobile truck and in demanding a greater sum than $1 as a license fee for the registration of said motor vehicle is unwarranted, unlawful, and unjust in the following particulars, to wit:

(1) Because said sum of $1 tendered by the relator to the respondent is in excess of and amply sufficient to pay all costs incident to the issuance of the certificate of registration, two duplicate number plates, the printing of the application blanks, the cost of clerical help, together with all other costs incident to the registration of said automobile.

(2) Because the sum demanded of relator by respondent is $9 in excess of all costs and expenses incident to the registration of said automobile, and that said excess is a tax upon this relator in the sum of $9.

(3) Because section 7558 is violative of section 3 of article 10 of the Constitution, in that the tax levied under the provisions of said section is not uniform upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the state.

(4) Because said section 7558 is violative of section 4 of article 10 of the Constitution, in that all property of the state subject to the tax imposed by said section is not taxed in proportion to the value of said property.

(5) Because section 7558 is unconstitutional, for the reason that it places a special tax in the sum of $9 upon relator's property, which is already assessed and taxed as personal property. Wherefore, relator prays, etc.

The issuance of the alternative writ was waived. The respondent's return admits all the facts alleged, but denies that his action in refusing to register relator's automobile truck and in demanding a greater sum than $1 as a license fee for the registration thereof was unwarranted, unlawful, and unjust. On the contrary, respondent states that it was his duty to refuse to register said truck except upon the payment of a registration fee of $10, as required by section 7558, R. S. 1919.

Respondent denies that section 7558 is violative of either of the sections of the Constitution specified in the petition. Respondent says that the motor vehicle license fee provided for by section 7558 is not a tax upon property but a license fee exacted for the privilege of operating motor vehicles on the public highways of the state, and that section 3 of article 10 of the Constitution only requires uniformity as to taxes on property in this state.

1. Section 7553, R. S. 1919, requires the annual registration by the Secretary of State of every motor vehicle operated upon the public highways (except as otherwise provided), and section 7558 requires the payment of registration fees thereon according to a schedule of horse power ratings. The fee for those rating 24 and less than 36 horse power is $10. By section 7604 (also 10902), the registration fees provided by the act must be paid by the Secretary of State into the state treasury for the benefit of the state road fund, less the cost of administering the provision of the chapter relative to motor vehicles. It is therefore avowedly a revenue measure. The owner of such vehicle may operate it on his own premises without being subject to the payment of the registration fee imposed by the statute. In such case he will pay the general property tax. The state maintains roads and bridges at great expense and exacts a license fee for the privilege of driving or operating these high-powered vehicles thereon. It is clear, therefore, that the registration fee is not a tax on the vehicle but upon the privilege of operating it on the highways of the state.

2. The constitutional questions raised by the relator were thoroughly considered in St. Louis v. Green, 7 Mo. App. 468. An ordinance of the city of St. Louis imposed an annual license tax on vehicles, from $2 upon a hand cart, $3 on a buggy, up to $30 for a

233 S.W. 56

six-horse omnibus. It was contended that the ordinance was violative of the Identical provisions of the Constitution now urged by the relator. The court said that—

"Every burden imposed for revenue purposes is levied under the taxing power, by whatever name the tax is called. License fees, when for revenue, tolls, polls, taxation of money, and of corporations in proportion to their capital stock, are instances of special cases of taxes which are regarded as exempted by implication from the constitutional rules as to ad valorem assessments. * * * It is therefore a mistake to...

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16 practice notes
  • Bacon v. Ranson, No. 32418.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 31, 1932
    ...v. Crawford, 248 S.W. 581; Ex Parte Asotsky, 319 Mo. 810, 5 S.W. (2d) 22, 62 A.L.R. 95; Const. of Mo. Art. X, sec. 3; State v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S.W. 54; St. Louis v. Green, 7 Mo. App. 468; St. Louis v. Green, 70 Mo. 562; St. Louis v. Railway, 263 Mo. 387, 174 S.W. 78; St. Louis v. S......
  • State ex rel. Transport Mfg. Co. v. Bates, No. 41456.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 14, 1949
    ...Mo. 271, 165 S.W. (2d) 632; 51 Am. Jur., sec. 173, p. 230; Ex parte Asotsky, 319 Mo. 810, 5 S.W. (2d) 22; State ex rel. McClung v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S.W. 54; Brashear Freight Lines v. Public Service Comm., 23 Fed. Supp. 865; Stebbins v. Riley, 268 U.S. 137, 69 L. Ed. 884, 45 S. Ct. 4......
  • Solberg v. Davenport, No. 40262.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 26, 1930
    ...have had this same proposition before them and have held that a law similar to this is not a license law, but a tax law. State v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S. W. 54;Saviers v. Smith, 101 Ohio St. 132, 128 N. E. 269;State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140, 135 A. 705;Opinion of the Justices, 250 Mass. 5......
  • Solberg v. Davenport, 40262
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 26, 1930
    ...proposition before them, and have held that a law similar to this is not a license law, but a tax law. State ex rel. McClung v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607 (233 S.W. 54); Saviers v. Smith, 101 Ohio St. 132 (128 N.E. 269); State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140 (135 A. 705); Opinion of the Justices, 250 Mass.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Bacon v. Ranson, No. 32418.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 31, 1932
    ...v. Crawford, 248 S.W. 581; Ex Parte Asotsky, 319 Mo. 810, 5 S.W. (2d) 22, 62 A.L.R. 95; Const. of Mo. Art. X, sec. 3; State v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S.W. 54; St. Louis v. Green, 7 Mo. App. 468; St. Louis v. Green, 70 Mo. 562; St. Louis v. Railway, 263 Mo. 387, 174 S.W. 78; St. Louis v. S......
  • State ex rel. Transport Mfg. Co. v. Bates, No. 41456.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 14, 1949
    ...Mo. 271, 165 S.W. (2d) 632; 51 Am. Jur., sec. 173, p. 230; Ex parte Asotsky, 319 Mo. 810, 5 S.W. (2d) 22; State ex rel. McClung v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S.W. 54; Brashear Freight Lines v. Public Service Comm., 23 Fed. Supp. 865; Stebbins v. Riley, 268 U.S. 137, 69 L. Ed. 884, 45 S. Ct. 4......
  • Solberg v. Davenport, No. 40262.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 26, 1930
    ...have had this same proposition before them and have held that a law similar to this is not a license law, but a tax law. State v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607, 233 S. W. 54;Saviers v. Smith, 101 Ohio St. 132, 128 N. E. 269;State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140, 135 A. 705;Opinion of the Justices, 250 Mass. 5......
  • Solberg v. Davenport, 40262
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 26, 1930
    ...proposition before them, and have held that a law similar to this is not a license law, but a tax law. State ex rel. McClung v. Becker, 288 Mo. 607 (233 S.W. 54); Saviers v. Smith, 101 Ohio St. 132 (128 N.E. 269); State v. Caplan, 100 Vt. 140 (135 A. 705); Opinion of the Justices, 250 Mass.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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