Wagoner v. Evans - 170 U.S. 588 (1898)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wagoner v. Evans, 170 U.S. 588 (1898)
Wagoner v. Evans
Nos. 252, 262.
Submitted April 29, 1898
Decided May 23, 1898
170 U.S. 588
Thomas v. Gay, 169 U. S. 264, affirmed and followed to the point that
"the act of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oklahoma of March 5, 1895, which provided that "
"when any cattle are kept or grazed or any other personal property is situated in any unorganized country, district or reservation of this territory, such property shall be subject to taxation in the organized county to which said country, district, or reservation is attached for judicial purposes"
was a legitimate exercise of the territory's power of taxation, and when enforced in the taxation of cattle belonging to persons not resident in the territory grazing upon Indian reservations therein, does not violate the Constitution of the United States.
Prior to the passage of that act, there existed no power in the authorities of Canadian County to tax property within the attached reservation, and, as such authority was first given by that act, it could only be validly exercised on property subjected to its terms after its enactment. Taxes otherwise lawful are not invalidated by the fact that the resulting benefits are unequally shared.
In November, 1895, D. Wagoner, W. T. Wagoner, and S.B. Burnett filed in the District Court of Canadian County, Territory of Oklahoma, a petition against Neil W. Evans, as Treasurer, and I. M. Cannon, as Sheriff, and Osborn, Hutchinson, and Vasey, as County Commissioners of Canadian County asking to enjoin the said defendants from levying or collecting certain taxes upon herds of cattle and horses belonging to the complainants and by them kept and grazed on the Kiousa and Comanche Indian reservation, which is a part of the Territory of Oklahoma, but not embraced in any organized county of that territory. In pursuance of the Act of Congress of May 2, 1890, c. 182, 26 Stat. 861, that Indian reservation was attached to Canadian County for judicial purposes, and by an Act of March 5, 1895, of the territorial legislature, the authorities of any county to which any reservation had been
attached for judicial purposes were authorized to assess taxes upon any cattle or other personal property kept or situated within such reservation. The petition alleged that in pursuance of the said act, the defendants were proceeding to assess and collect taxes for the years 1892 to 1895, both inclusive, that for several reasons set forth in the petition, the said Act of March 5, 1895, was invalid, and that said defendants were proceeding without warrant of law. To this petition a demurrer was filed, which was overruled, and thereupon the defendants filed answers admitting that they were proceeding to levy and collect taxes as complained of in the petition and alleging that their action in the premises was in pursuance of a valid statutory enactment of the territorial legislature.
An agreed statement of the facts was filed, and the cause was submitted to the court upon the petition, answer, and statement of facts, and thereupon the court found that the defendants were fully authorized by the laws of Oklahoma Territory to collect from the petitioners taxes for territorial and judicial purposes for the year 1895 only, but that they were without authority to collect from the petitioners taxes for county, township, or other than the territorial and judicial purposes. It was therefore decreed by the court that the defendants were authorized and permitted to collect those parts of the tax which were for territorial and judicial purposes for the year 1895 only, and enjoined them from collecting any part of the taxes which were for county, township, or other than territorial or judicial purposes, and no taxes whatever for the years 1892, 1893, and 1894.
From this decree, both parties appealed to the Supreme Court of the Territory of Oklahoma, which, on September 4, 1896, affirmed the decree of the district court.
From that decree of affirmance, both parties were allowed an appeal to this Court by the chief justice of the supreme court of the territory.