Page images
PDF
EPUB

Opinion of the Court.

the territory of any other State, and to erect its poles and lines therein, to establish the proposition that such a company owed no obedience to the laws of the State into which it thus entered, and was under no obligation to pay its fair proportion of the taxes necessary to the support of the government of that State. 125 U. S. 547, 548.

By whatever name the tax may be called, as described in the laws of Massachusetts, it is essentially an excise upon the capital of the corporation; and those laws attempt to ascertain the just amount which any corporation engaged in business within its limits shall pay as a contribution to the support of its government upon the amount and value of the capital so employed by it therein. 125 U. S. 547.

The tax, though nominally upon the shares of the capital stock of the company, is in effect a tax upon that organization on account of property owned and used by it in the State of Massachusetts; and the proportion of the length of its lines in that State to their entire length throughout the whole country is made the basis for ascertaining the value of that property. Such a tax is not forbidden by the acceptance on the part of the telegraph company of the rights conferred by $ 5263 of the Revised Statutes, or by the commerce clause of the Constitution. 125 U. S. 552.

The statute of Massachusetts is intended to govern the taxation of all corporations doing business within its territory, whether organized under its own laws or under those of some other State; and the rule adopted to ascertain the amount of the value of the capital engaged in that business within its boundaries, on which the tax should be assessed, is not an unfair or unjust one; and the details of the method by which this was determined have not exceeded the fair range of legislative discretion. 125 U. S. 553.

That decision was cited by the court in Ratterman v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 127 U. S. 411, 426, 427, and in Leloup v. Mobile, 127 U. S. 640, 649.

The other questions argued relate to the amounts for which decrees were entered. In each case, the defendant admitted its liability to pay a tax on the actual value, as stated in its

Opinion of the Court.

answer, of its real and personal property within the State; and tendered, and paid into court, the sum so admitted to be due, with interest thereon at the rate of twelve per cent, and costs. The sum so paid in was greater than like interest then accrued on the whole amount of the tax assessed and sued for. The court added, to the whole amount of the tax sued for, interest thereon at the rate of twelve per cent to the date of the payment into court; deducted from the sum so ascertained the sum paid in; and entered a decree for the balance, with interest thereon at the rate of twelve per cent from the date of such payment to the date of the decree, and, thereafter until payment, interest on the amount of the decree at the rate of six per cent, that being the usual rate of interest in Massachusetts.

It is contended, in behalf of the State, that the tender and payment into court could have no effect in a suit of this kind to recover a tax, with interest thereon at the rate of twelve per cent in the nature of a penalty; and that such interest must be computed at that rate, not merely to the time of the decree below, but to the time of payment, or at least to the time of the final decree in this court. On the other hand, it is contended that the sum paid into court should have been applied, according to the evident intention of the defendant in paying it, to both principal and interest of the sum admitted to be due; instead of applying it to interest on the whole claim sued for, and thereby increasing the sum on which to compute subsequent interest.

We are of opinion that in this matter the defendant is right. In equity, at least, the defendant was entitled to the

. benefit of the sum paid into court. That sum should have been applied to that part of the principal sum and interest which was admitted to be due. After the payment into court, as before, interest at the rate of twelve per cent was to be computed on the rest of the principal. The penal rate of twelve per cent interest ran only until the amount to be recovered was judicially ascertained. Since the date of the decree below, interest is to be computed on the lawful amount of the decree at the rate of six per cent only.

Statement of the Case.

In each of the three cases, therefore, the entry must

be

Decree reversed, and case remanded with directions to enter a

decree for the amount of the tax found due by the Circuit Court, but applying the sum paid into court, and computing interest on the balance, in accordance with the opinion of this court; the costs in this court to be equally divided between the parties.

MR. JUSTICE FIELD and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN dissented.

CRUTCHER v. KENTUCKY.

ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY.

No. 828. Argued March 19, 1890. - Decided May 25, 1891.

The act of the legislature of Kentucky of March 2, 1860, “ to regulate

agencies of foreign express companies,” which provides that the agent of an express company not incorporated by the laws of that State shall not carry on business there without first obtaining a license from the State, and that, preliminary thereto, he shall satisfy the auditor of the State that the company he represents is possessed of an actual capital of at least $150,000, and that if he engages in such business without license he shall be subject to fine, is a regulation of interstate commerce so far as applied to a corporation of another State engaged in that business, and is, to that extent, repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

The case was stated by the court as follows:

This case arose at Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky, upon an indictment found against Crutcher, the plaintiff in error, in the Franklin Circuit Court, for acting and doing business as agent for the United States Express Company, alleged to be an express company not incorporated by the laws of Kentucky, but trading and doing business as a common carrier, by express, of goods, merchandise, money and other things of value in and through the county and State aforesaid, without having any license so to do either for himself or the

Statement of the Case.

company. Crutcher, being arrested and brought before the court, tendered a special plea setting forth the facts with regard to his employment and the business of the company, and amongst other things, that said company was a joint stock company, incorporated and having its principal office in the city of New York, in the State of New York, which plea was refused. He then pleaded “not guilty,” and the parties filed an agreed statement of facts; and, by consent, the matters of law and fact were submitted to the court, and the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of prosecution.

The agreed statement of facts was as follows:

“It is agreed that defendant is agent of the United States Express Co., a foreign corporation doing the business ordinarily done by express companies in this country, of carrying goods and freight for hire not only from points in this State to other points in this State, but also of carrying same character of freight from points within this State to points without State, in divers parts of the United States, and vice versa.

“And defendant, agent at Frankfort, Ky., never obtained any license to do such business, nor did said express company obtain any license from the State of Kentucky. The proportion of business done by the said company within and without this State for the month of November, 1888, is shown by a statement herewith filed, marked ·X,' and the same proportion of business within and without this State, approximately, is generally done by said company."

The detailed statement referred to, marked X, showed the total amount of business done by the company at the Frankfort office in November, 1888, to have been $226.71, of which $56.14, or not quite one-fourth of the whole, was business done entirely within the State; and the remainder, $170.57, was done partly within and partly without the State; that is, the goods were brought into the State from places without the State, or were carried from the State to places without the State. Of course the latter, or largest portion, was comprised within the category of interstate commerce.

The defendant upon these facts moved for a new trial,

Statement of the Case.

which was refused, and also for an arrest of judgment, which was denied, and a bill of exceptions was taken. The case was then appealed to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, and the judgment was affirmed. The ground taken for reversing the judgment was that the statute of Kentucky, under which the indictment was found was repugnant to the power given to Congress by the Constitution of the United States to regulate commerce among the several States.

The law in question was passed March 2, 1860, and is as follows:

“An Act to Regulate Agencies of Foreign Express Companies :

“SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That it shall not be lawful, after the first day of May, 1860, for any agent of any express company, not incorporated by the laws of this commonwealth, to set up, establish or carry on the business of transportation in this State, without first obtaining a license from the auditor of public accounts to carry on such business.

“Sec. 2. Before the auditor shall issue such license to any agent of any company incorporated by any State of the United States, there shall be filed in his office a copy of the charter of such company, and a statement, made under oath of its president or secretary, showing its assets and liabilities, and distinctly showing the amount of its capital stock, and how the same has been paid, and of what the assets of the company consist, the amount of losses due and unpaid by said company, if any, and all other claims against said company or other indebtedness, due or not due; and such statement shall show that the company is possessed of an actual capital of at least $150,000, either in cash or in safe investments, exclusive of stock notes. Upon the filing of the statement above provided, and furnishing the auditor with satisfactory evidence of such capital, it shall be his duty to issue license to such agent or agents as the company may direct to carry on the business of expressing or transportation in this State.

“SEC. 3. Before the auditor shall issue license to any agent of any express or transportation company incorporated by any

VOL. CXL-4

« PreviousContinue »