Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Richmond - 249 U.S. 252 (1919)
U.S. Supreme Court
Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Richmond, 249 U.S. 252 (1919)
Postal Telegraph-Cable Company v. Richmond
Argued January 22, 1919
Decided March 17, 1919
249 U.S. 252
The City of Richmond is authorized by its charter and the statutes of Virginia to impose an occupation or license tax on the business of a telegraph company done within the city. P. 249 U. S. 257.
Under its police power, a state may impose a license tax upon a telegraph company, which has accepted the Act of Congress of July 24, 1866, and is doing both an interstate and a local business, provided the tax is restricted in terms to the local business and does not in effect burden or discriminate against the interstate business. Id.
Where a state requires a telegraph company to engage in intrastate business, and taxes that business more than the amount of the net receipts therefrom, so that payment, if compelled, must come in part from receipts from interstate business, semble, that the tax must
be declared invalid, but only if the incidence on interstate commerce is shown by clear and convincing evidence. P. 249 U. S. 258.
A telegraph company, although it has accepted the Act of 1866, and is engaged in interstate commerce, may be charged by a city a reasonable amount upon each pole maintained and used in the city streets, both as compensation for such use, in the nature of rental, and to cover the expense entailed on the city by the presence of the poles and wires and the liabilities and duties arising therefrom. Id.
Such a tax, if reasonable in amount, is not necessarily objectionable because it exceeds the net returns from local business and must be paid from interstate earnings. P. 249 U. S. 259.
The case is stated in the opinion.