State v. Switzler

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGantt
Citation143 Mo. 287,45 S.W. 245
Decision Date15 March 1898
PartiesSTATE ex rel. GARTH v. SWITZLER, Judge. STATE ex rel. WILFLEY v. RASSIEUR, Judge.
45 S.W. 245
143 Mo. 287
STATE ex rel. GARTH
v.
SWITZLER, Judge.
STATE ex rel. WILFLEY
v.
RASSIEUR, Judge.
Supreme Court of Missouri.
March 15, 1898.

SUCCESSION TAX — VALIDITY — CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.

1. An excise upon the right of a person or corporation to receive property by devise or inheritance from another, under the regulation of the state, is a tax, within the meaning of Const. art. 10, § 3, ordaining that "taxes may be levied and collected for public purposes only."

2. The act of April 1, 1895, and the amendatory

[45 S.W. 246]

act of March 17, 1897, impose a collateral succession tax to create a fund for maintaining free scholarships in the university, distributed throughout the state on competitive examinations to applicants without means. Held, the tax so levied is for a purely private purpose, and the acts are void, in violation of Const. art. 10, § 3, ordaining that "taxes may be levied and collected for public purposes only.

3. The act of March 17, 1897, amended the act of April 1, 1895, each imposing a tax upon decedents' estates, and providing that the right of the state to tax accrues immediately upon the death of the testator. Held, that the act of 1895 alone should apply to a testator who died before the amendment was made.

4. The act of April 1, 1895, intended to levy "a collateral succession tax," provided that all property conveyed by will or by death of the intestate to any person other than the father, mother, husband, wife, or direct lineal descendants of the testator or intestate, except when conveyed for some educational or charitable or religious purpose exclusively, should pay a collateral inheritance tax of $5 for each and every $100 of the market value of such property up to $10,000, and, where the estate exceeded $10,000, then it should pay $7.50 in addition for every $100 of the excess. Held, that the act provided for a tax upon the aggregate value of the whole estate of a decedent, and was not a succession tax.

5. Because it subjects the estate to an additional property tax to that levied on all other like property in the state for the same year, the act was void, in violation of the requirement of Const. art. 10, § 4, that all property subject to taxation shall be taxed in proportion to its value.

6. By reason of the difference in the rate of levy on varying values, the act was void, in violation of the provision of Const. art. 10, § 3, providing that taxes should be uniform upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.

In banc. Certiorari by the state, on the relation of W. W. Garth, executor of the estate of John C. Conley, against Lewis M. Switzler, judge of the probate court of Boone county, and certiorari on the relation of L. R. Wilfley, executor of the estate of Susan E. Spear, against Leo Rassieur, judge of the probate court of the city of St. Louis. Considered together, and proceedings quashed in both.

Turner & Hinton, C. B. Sebastian, W. M. Williams, M. F. Watts, Silas B. Jones, Frank M. Estes, and L. F. Parker, for relators. Wm. J. Stone, G. S. Hoss, D. C. Reeves, and F. N. Judson, for respondents.

GANTT, C. J.


This is an original proceeding in this court for a writ of certiorari to the judge of the probate court of Boone county, commanding him to send up the record of his proceedings in the matter of the assessment and levy of a collateral succession tax upon the estate of John C. Conley, late of said county, deceased. The writ was issued, and made returnable to division No. 2 of this court; but owing to the importance of the questions involved, and the fact that a similar writ had also been issued upon the application of L. R. Wilfley, executor of Susan E. Spear, against Judge Rassieur, judge of the probate court of the city of St. Louis, returnable to the court in banc, this cause was transferred to the court in banc; and, the records of the probate court in each case having been removed into this court, the two cases were heard together, upon a motion to quash the proceedings for want of jurisdiction in said courts to assess and levy said collateral succession tax. John C. Conley died in Boone county, Mo., on the 6th day of December, 1896, leaving an estate, consisting of realty in this and other states, and of bonds, notes, certificates of stock, and other securities. His will, dated February 18, 1896, was duly established and admitted to probate by the probate court of Boone county, on the 7th of December, 1896. The said testator was never married. He made a bequest of $20,000 for charitable purposes, and gave the remainder of his estate, in different amounts, to his collateral relatives. He gave some special legacies of a certain amount, and, after the payment of various special bequests, the residue of the estate is given by his will to certain nephews and nieces named in the residuary clause. Letters testamentary were duly issued to the relators, who qualified as executors of the will on the 15th of December, 1896, and filed their inventory on the 11th of January, 1897. The probate court, on the 30th of August, 1897, entered an order of record reciting the death of said John C. Conley, the probating of his will, and setting out the terms thereof, the date of letters testamentary, and of the filing of the inventory, and, over the protest of the relators (who waived formal notice of the proceedings, but objected to the right of the court to make such assessment), proceeded to fix the value of said estate, for the purposes of the collateral succession tax, under the act of April 1, 1895, and the amendatory acts of 1897. The court found that the sum of $20,000 was given by the will, to trustees, for charitable purposes; $18,391.31 of the estate will be required to pay the debts of the testator (so far as appeared up to the date of that order) and other legal demands; that the real estate in the state of Missouri was of the value of $45,660; and that the personal property of the estate was of the value of $182,919.34, — making a total valuation of $228,579.34. The court deducted from this amount the sum of $20,000, given for charitable purposes, and $18,391.34, required to pay debts and expenses of the administration, and held and determined that the clear market value of all of said property subject to such tax was $190,188, and that said amount was subject to the payment of a collateral succession tax of $5 for each and every $100 of such sum, up to $10,000; and $12.50 for every $100 in value in excess of said sum of $10,000. Eighty-five shares of stock in the Bank of Hico, Tex., of the par value of $8.925, was included in the above valuation. The court then levied and charged said estate with a total tax of $23,023.50, and ordered the executors to pay the same. All these facts appear upon the face of the record of the probate court. A similar state of facts exists as to the tax on Susan E. Spear's estate, in all material respects.

The constitutionality of the act of the general

45 S.W. 247

assembly of Missouri entitled "An act providing for the endowment of the state university, and for the establishment and endowment of free scholarships of merit therein in each county," approved April 1, 1895, and of an act of the general assembly entitled "An act to amend an act passed by the 38th general assembly of the state of Missouri, entitled `An act providing for the endowment of the state university, and for the endowment of free scholarships of merit therein in each county,' by adding a new section after section 1 of said act, to be numbered section 1a, which new section shall read as follows," approved March 16, 1897, is directly assailed in and by these proceedings. The proposition of relators is that both the act of April 1, 1895, and the amendatory act of March 17, 1897, are void, because in conflict with various provisions of the constitution of Missouri and the fourteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States. No question is raised as to the power of this court by certiorari to supervise the proceedings in the probate courts, and, if their action in levying said taxes is found in excess of their powers, to quash their proceedings, and we have no doubt of our power to do so. At the risk of being deemed prolix, we will insert so much of the acts as bear directly upon the questions raised.

The act was passed in 1895, and amended by two acts passed in 1897. As amended, it provides, among other things, as follows:

"Section 1. That all property conveyed by will, or by the death of an intestate, * * * to any persons other than the father, mother, husband, wife or direct lineal descendant of the testator, intestate, * * * except property conveyed for some educational, charitable or religious purpose exclusively, shall be subject to the payment of a collateral succession tax of five dollars for each and every one hundred dollars of the clear market value of such property.

"Sec. 2. That in addition to the fees now provided by law, no corporation shall be organized under the laws of this state, and no foreign corporation shall do business in this state unless the incorporators shall, upon filing the articles of association, pay to the state treasurer, in trust for the state of Missouri, to be disposed of as hereinafter provided in this act, the sum of twenty-five hundredths of a dollar for every thousand dollars of the capital stock of such corporation as a franchise fee; and a like franchise fee shall be paid in the same manner on every thousand dollars of the increase of the capital stock of any corporation.

"Sec. 3. That every manufacturer of patent medicines shall annually pay a license tax of twenty-five dollars.

"Sec. 4. That all moneys, which may hereafter escheat to the state, shall be distributed in the manner provided by this act.

"Sec. 5. That all taxes, fees or moneys received under this act by any county official, shall be paid during the first week of the...

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57 practice notes
  • State v. Bixman
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 5, 1901
    ...175 Ill. 445, 51 N. E. 907, 49 L. R. A. 408; City of Cullman v. Arndt (Ala.) 28 South. 70; State v. Switzler, 143 Mo., loc. cit. 333, 45 S. W. 245; Ex parte Jones (Tex. Cr. App.) 43 S. W. 513; Pullman Palace-Car Co. v. State, 64 Tex. 274; City of Williamsport v. Stearns, 2 Pa. Dist. R. 351;......
  • Standard Oil Co. v. Fox, No. 3312.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 1, 1934
    ...tax); Cope's Estate, 191 Pa. 1, 43 A. 79, 45 L. R. A. 316, 71 Am. St. Rep. 749 (inheritance tax); State ex rel. Garth v. Switzler, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S. W. 245, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653 (succession tax); Bachrach v. Nelson, 349 Ill. 579, 182 N. E. 909 (income tax); and see Re Harkn......
  • State v. Bryan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 19, 1905
    ...are public institutions of learning, maintained and supported for public purposes by public taxation. See State ex rel. Garth v. Switzler, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S.W. 245, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653; State ex rel. Attorney General v. Knowles, 16 Fla., text 616. Also see the definitions o......
  • Hunter v. Colfax Consol. Coal Co., No. 30268.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 24, 1915
    ...985), and an inheritance tax imposed for the purpose of paying the expenses of deserving students at the State University (Garth's Case, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S. W. 246, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653), and the use of public funds to erect a building for a Grand Army of the Republic post (K......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • State v. Bixman
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 5, 1901
    ...175 Ill. 445, 51 N. E. 907, 49 L. R. A. 408; City of Cullman v. Arndt (Ala.) 28 South. 70; State v. Switzler, 143 Mo., loc. cit. 333, 45 S. W. 245; Ex parte Jones (Tex. Cr. App.) 43 S. W. 513; Pullman Palace-Car Co. v. State, 64 Tex. 274; City of Williamsport v. Stearns, 2 Pa. Dist. R. 351;......
  • Standard Oil Co. v. Fox, No. 3312.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 1, 1934
    ...tax); Cope's Estate, 191 Pa. 1, 43 A. 79, 45 L. R. A. 316, 71 Am. St. Rep. 749 (inheritance tax); State ex rel. Garth v. Switzler, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S. W. 245, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653 (succession tax); Bachrach v. Nelson, 349 Ill. 579, 182 N. E. 909 (income tax); and see Re Harkn......
  • State v. Bryan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 19, 1905
    ...are public institutions of learning, maintained and supported for public purposes by public taxation. See State ex rel. Garth v. Switzler, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S.W. 245, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653; State ex rel. Attorney General v. Knowles, 16 Fla., text 616. Also see the definitions o......
  • Hunter v. Colfax Consol. Coal Co., No. 30268.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 24, 1915
    ...985), and an inheritance tax imposed for the purpose of paying the expenses of deserving students at the State University (Garth's Case, 143 Mo. 287, 45 S. W. 246, 40 L. R. A. 280, 65 Am. St. Rep. 653), and the use of public funds to erect a building for a Grand Army of the Republic post (K......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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