Morris Canal & Banking Co. v. Baird - 239 U.S. 126 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
Morris Canal & Banking Co. v. Baird, 239 U.S. 126 (1915)
Morris Canal and Banking Company v. Baird
Argued October 21, 1915
Decided November 21, 1915
239 U.S. 126
A transfer, even though under legislative authority, of all the property and franchises of one corporation to another does not vest the latter with freedom from exercise of governmental power which the former enjoyed under its charter. Rochester Railway v. Rochester, 205 U. S. 236.
An express provision in a legislative charter limiting an exemption from taxation to such property as is possessed, occupied, and used by the company for the actual and necessary purposes for which it was chartered must be strictly construed under the settled rule that transfers do not carry the exemption even though, as in this case,
the state has reserved right of purchase and eventual ownership of the property.
After property has been transferred by one corporation to another, it is not possessed, occupied, and used by the former, and an exemption from taxation during such possession, occupation, and use no longer applies.
Taxes imposed by the New Jersey upon the lessee of the property of the Morris Canal and Banking Company held not to be unconstitutional as impairing the obligation of the contract of exemption contained in the charter of the company granted in 1824, that company having leased all of its property to the lessee and the exemption not being transferable, and only applicable to property possessed, occupied, and used by the canal company, and further held that the general rule was not affected in this case by the fact that the state reserved the power to purchase the property of the canal company within a specified period, and that, within a further specified period, such property should become the property of the state.
76 N.J.L. 27 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the contract clause and the construction of a taxing statute of New Jersey and the validity of a tax levied thereunder, are stated in the opinion.