Page images
PDF
EPUB

CASES ADJUDGED

IN THE

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES,

AT

OCTOBER TERM, 1887.

CALIFORNIA v. CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.

SAME 0. SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.

SAME v. NORTHERN RAILWAY CO.

SAME v. CALIFORNIA PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.

SAME v. CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.

SAME v. CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD CO.

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.

Nos. 660, 661, 662, 663, 664, 1157. Argued January 11, 12, 13, 1888. – Decided April 30, 1888.

By the constitution of California two modes of assessment for taxation

are prescribed : one, by a state board of equalization; the other, by county boards and local assessors. All property is directed to be assessed in the county, city, etc., in which it is situated, except that the franchise, roadway, road-bed, rails, and rolling-stock of any railroad operated in more than one county, are to be assessed by the state board, and apportioned to the several counties, etc. By an act of the legislature the state board is required to include in their assessment steamers engaged in transporting passengers and freights across waters which divide a railroad. This act was held by the Supreme Court of California, in San Francisco v. Central Pacific Railroad Co., 63 Cal. 469, to be contrary to the constitution, and steamboats were held to be assessable by the county

VOL. CXXVII-1

Statement of the Case.

board, and not by the state board. This court, following that decision, and that of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., 118 U.S. 394, holds that the assessment of the steamers of a railroad company by the state board is in violation of the constitution of California, and void ; and, being inseparably blende 1 with the other property assessed, it makes

the whole assessment void. The State Board of Equalization of California having included in their

assessment all the franchises of a railroad company, amongst which were franchises conferred by the United States, of constructing a railroad from the Pacific Ocean across the State as well as across the Territories of the United States, and of taking toll thereon; held, that the assessment of these franchises was repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States and the power given to Congress to regulate commerce

among the several States. Franchises conferred by Congress cannot, without its permission, be taxed

by the States. Congress has authority, in the exercise of its power to regulate com

merce among the several States, to construct, or authorize individuals or corporations to construct, railroads across the States and Territories of the United States.

These cases were argued together. They all involved the constitutionality of tax laws of the State of California, in many respects the same constitutional questions being presented as those which were argued (and not decided) in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U. S. 394.

Each action was brought by the people of the State of California to recover a tax assessed upon the property and franchises of the defendant.

The provisions of the constitution and laws of the State of California, authorizing the suits, and which were relied upon to sustain the validity of the taxes, were stated in the brief of the Attorney General as printed in the margin.1

1 Sections 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10, of Article 13, of the constitution of California, provide as follows:

Section 1. All property in the State, not exempt under the laws of the United States, shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as provided by law. The word 'property'as used in this article and section is hereby declared to include moneys, credits, bonds, stocks, dues, franchises, and all other matters and things, real, personal and mixed, capable of private ownership; provided, that growing crops, property usei exclusively for public schools, and such as may belong to the United States, this State, or to any county or municipal corporation within this State.

Statement of the Case.

The answers of the defendants, although varying according to the facts in each case, substantially agreed in setting up in

shall be exempt from taxation. The legislature may provide, except in the case of credits secured by mortgage or trust-deed, for a deduction from credits of debts due to bona fide residents of this State.

* Section 2. Land and the improvements thereon shall be separately assessed, etc.

“ Section 4. A mortgage, deed of trust, contract, or other obligation by which a debt is secured shall, for the purposes of assessment and taxation, be deemed and treated as an interest in the property affected thereby. Excepi as to railroads and other quasi-public corporations, in case of debts so secured, the value of the property affected by such mortgage, deed of trust, contract, or obligation, less the value of such security, shall be assessed and taxed to the owner of the property, and the value of such security shall be assessed, and taxed to the owner thereof, in the county, city, or district in which the property affected thereby is situate. The taxes so levied shall be a lien upon the property and security, and may be paid by either party to such security; if paid by the owner of the security, the tax so levied upon the property affected thereby shall become a part of the debt so secured; if the owner of the property shall pay the tax so levied on such security, it shall constitute a payment thereon, and to the extent of such payment, a full discharge thereof; provided, that if any such security or indebtedness shall be paid by any such debtor or debtors, after assessment and before the tax levy, the amount of such levy may likewise be retained by such debtor or debtors, and shall be computed according to the tax levy for the preceding year.

“ Section 9. A State Board of Equalization, consisting of one member from each Congressional District in this State, shall be elected by the qualified electors of their respective districts at the general election to be held in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine, whose term of office, after those first elected, shall be four years, whose duty it shall be to equalize the valuation of the taxable property of the several counties in the State for the purposes of taxation. The Controller of State shall be ec-officio a member of the Board. The Boards of Supervisors of the several counties of the State shall constitute Boards of Equalization for their respective counties, whose duty it shall be to equalize the valuation of the taxable property in the county for the purpose of taxation; provided, such State and County Boards of Equalization are hereby authorized and empowered, under such rules of notice as the County Boards may prescribe, as to the county assessments, and under such rules of notice as the State Board may prescribe as to the action of the State Board, to increase or lower the entire assessment roll, or any assessment contained therein, so as to equalize the assessment of the property contained in said assessment roll, and make the assessment conform to the true value in money of the property contained in said roll. [This section was amended May 20, 1884,

Statement of the Case.

addition to general denials, that the tax as assessed against each of them was not assessed in the same mode, and with

99

and one of the Central Pacific cases was commenced after the amendment took effect. But the counsel on both sides cited the section as here printed.]

“ Section 10. All property, except as hereinafter in this section provided, shall be assessed in the county, city and county, town, township, or district in which it is situated, in the manner prescribed by law. The franchise, roadway, road-bed, rails, and rolling-stock of all railroads operated in more than one county in this State shall be assessed by the State Board of Equalization at their actual value, and the same shall be apportioned to the counties, cities and counties, cities, towns, townships, and districts in which such railroads are located, in proportion to the number of miles of railway laid in such counties, cities and counties, cities, towns, townships, and districts."

Statutory Provisions. Sections 3617, 3627, 3628, 3629, 3664, 3665, 3669, 3670, 3671, 3672, 3673, 3674, 3676, 3692, and 3693 of the Political Code of California provide as follows:

Section 3617, third subdivision :

“ The term 'improvements,' includes - 1. All buildings, structures, fixtures, fences, and improvements erected upon or affixed to the land."

“ Section 3627. All taxable property must be assessed at its full cash value. Land and improvements thereon shall be separately assessed. Cultivated and uncultivated land, of the same quality and similarly situated, shall be assessed at the same value. A mortgage, deed of trust, contract, or other obligation by which a debt is secured, shall, for the purposes of assessment and taxation, be deemed and treated as an interest in the property affected thereby, except as to railroad and other quasi-public corporations. In case of debts so secured, the value of the property affected by such mortgage, deed of trust, contract, or obligation, less the value of such security, shall be assessed and taxed to the owner of the property, and the value of such security shall be assessed and taxed to the owner thereof, in the county, city, or district in which the property affected thereby is situated. The taxes so levied shall be a lien upon the property and security, and may be paid by either party to such security; if paid by the owner of the security, the tax so levied upon the property affected thereby shall become a part of the debt so secured. If the owner of the property shall pay the tax so levied on such security, it shall constitute a payment thereon, and, to the extent of such payment, a full discharge thereof. If any such security or indebtedness shall be paid by any such debtor or debtors, after assessment and before the tax levy, the amount of such levy may likewise be retained by such debtor or debtors, and shall be computed according to the tax levy for the preceding year; and every contract by which a debtor is obliged to pay any tax or assessment on money loaned, or on any mortgage, deed of trust, or other lien, shall, as to any interest specified therein,

Statement of the Case.

the same exemptions of their mortgaged property that was allowed to private individuals and other corporations, and and as to such tax or assessment, be null and void. [In effect March 7, 1881.]

“ Section 3628. The franchise, roadway, road-bed, rails, and rolling. stock of all railroads operated in more than one county in this State, shall be assessed by the State Board of Equalization, as hereinafter provided for. Other franchises, if granted by the authorities of a county, city, or city and county, must be assessed in the county, city, or city and county, within which they were granted; if granted by any other authority they must be assessed in the county in which the corporations, firms, or persons owning or holding them have their principal place of business. All other taxable property shall be assessed in the county, city, city and county, town, township, or district in which it is situated. Land shall be assessed in parcels or subdivisions not exceeding six hundred and forty acres each, and tracts of land containing more than six hundred and forty acres, which have been sectionized by the United States Government, shall be assessed by sections or fractions of sections. The assessor must, between the first Mondays of March and July in each year, ascertain the names of all taxable inhabitants, and all property in his county subject to taxation, except such as is required to be assessed by the State Board of Equalization, and must assess such property to the persons by whom it was owned or claimed, or in whose possession or control it was at twelve o'clock m. of the first Monday of March next preceding; but no mistake in the name of the owner or supposed owner of real property, shall render the assessment thereof invalid. In assessing solvent credits, not secured by mortgage or trust deed, a reduction therefrom shall be made of debts due to bona fide residents of this State. [In effect March 22, 1880.]

“Section 3629. He must exact from each person a statement under oath, setting forth specifically all the real and personal property owned by such person, or in his possession or under his control, at 12 o'clock M. on the first Monday in March,” etc. [In effect March 7, 1881.]

“Section 3664. The president, secretary, or managing agent, or such other officer as the State Board of Equalization may designate, of any corporation, and each person, or association of persons, owning or operating any railroad in more than one county in this State, shall, on or before the first Monday in April of each year, furnish the said Board a statement, signed and sworn to by one of such officers, or by the person or one of the persons forming such association, showing in detail for the year ending on the first Monday in March in each year :

"1. The whole number of miles of railway in the State, and, when the line is partly out of the State, the whole number of miles without the State, and the whole number within the State, owned or operated by such corporation, person, or association;

* 2. The value of the roadway, road-bed, and rails of the whole railway, and the value of the same within the State;

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »