Hughes Brothers Timber Co. v. Minnesota - 272 U.S. 469 (1926)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hughes Brothers Timber Co. v. Minnesota, 272 U.S. 469 (1926)
Hughes Brothers Timber Company v. Minnesota
Argued October 6, 7, 1926
Decided November 23, 1926
272 U.S. 469
1. A state cannot tax personal property which is in actual transit in interstate commerce. P. 272 U. S. 471.
2. Pursuant to a contract of sale, logs cut in Minnesota by the vendors were floated by river to Lake Superior, there loaded on the vendee's vessels and transported to their destination in Michigan. Part of the price was paid when provisional inspection and estimates of quantity, etc., were made by the vendee at river landings, another part when the logs reached booms at or near the place of their transference to the vessels, and the remainder at destination. The wood was scaled by representatives of both parties when stowed in the vessels and at destination. Liability insurance was carried by the vendor, and cargo insurance by the vendee. The vendor warranted title.
Held, that the logs had begun their continuous interstate journey with the beginning of their drive down the river, not with their subsequent transfer to the vessels. Pp. 272 U. S. 473, 272 U. S. 475.
3. The contract and the method of complying with it were circumstances throwing light on the question whether the interstate transportation began at the beginning of the drive, when the ice broke up, or at the point of loading in the lake. P. 272 U. S. 473.
4. The change in the method of transportation from floating to carriage on a vessel did not affect the continuity of the interstate passage. P. 272 U. S. 474.
5. The interstate character of the movement of goods actually on their way from one state to another is not destroyed by the fact that the transportation is not by carrier, but under control of the owner, who may divert them to another destination. P. 272 U. S. 475.
163 Minn. 4 reversed
Certiorari (269 U.S. 542) to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Minnesota which affirmed, with a modification, a judgment for taxes on personal property recovered by the State of Minnesota in a special proceeding against the Hughes Bros. Timber Company. The tax in question was assessed on some pulpwood which the company alleged was at the time in actual transit from Minnesota to Michigan, and therefore was not subject to taxation by Minnesota.