Alward v. Johnson
282 U.S. 509 (1931)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Alward v. Johnson, 282 U.S. 509 (1931)

Alward v. Johnson

No. 41

Argued January 8, 1931

Decided February 24, 1931

282 U.S. 509

Syllabus

1. A state, upon reasonable grounds, may classify property and lay an appropriate tax upon each class. P. 282 U. S. 513.

2. A tax on automotive vehicles that are used in operating a stage line and make constant and unusual use of the highways may be measured by gross receipts and be assessed at a higher rate than taxes on property not so employed. So held where the tax was exclusive of all other taxation of the property, and its proceeds were assigned to the maintenance of roads. P. 282 U. S. 513.

3. The taxpayer was engaged in operating an automotive stage line between points in California under a mail carrier's contract. The gross income for the year in question was over four times the market value of the property employed, and considerably more than half of it came from the mail contract, the rest from freight and passengers. The line could not have been run profitably without the mail contract. Under § 15, Art. XIII, California Constitution, the state laid a tax on the property, in lieu of other taxes, equal to 4 1/2% of the gross receipts. The rate on other property assessed ad valorem in the vicinity did not exceed 3%.

Held:

Page 282 U. S. 510

(1) That the tax is not repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 282 U. S. 513.

(2) It is not a direct interference with or burden upon the federal right to transport the mail. P. 282 U. S. 514.

208 Cal. 359 affirmed.

Certiorari, 281 U.S. 709, to review a judgment affirming dismissal of the complaint on demurrer in an action to recover part of a tax.

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