James v. United Artists Corp. - 305 U.S. 410 (1939)


U.S. Supreme Court

James v. United Artists Corp., 305 U.S. 410 (1939)

James v. United Artists Corp.

No. 161

Argued December 8, 9, 1938

Decided January 3, 1939

305 U.S. 410

Syllabus

Appellee, a foreign corporation engaged in the business of distributing motion picture films for exhibition in theaters in various States, had no office or place of business in West Virginia; it carried on no business there except such as was involved in the solicitation by a traveling representative of exhibition contracts, all of which were made outside of the State. To exhibitors there, it shipped films from outside of the State, and these were returned by the exhibitors likewise to points outside of the State. Other than these films, when temporarily there, it had no property in the State. It had no collection agent in the State, but all sums due under the contracts were required to be paid at offices outside of the State. When the contract was for a percentage of the exhibitor's gross receipts, the exhibitor agreed to set apart such percentage "in trust" to be paid to appellee outside the State. Held: appellee was not subject to the tax, measured by gross income, imposed by § 2(i) of Art. 13, c. 11, of the West Virginia Code, on all engaged within the State "in the business of collecting incomes from the use of real or personal property." P. 305 U. S. 414.

So construed in the absence of a state supreme court decision interpreting the section and of any evidence of its legislative history, and in view of the emphasis put by the section and its various subsections on the carrying on of business or other specified activities within the State as the real incidence of the tax, and the fact that the exhibitors' gross receipts are taxed to them under another provision of the statute. Questions as to the power of a State to lay a tax on income derived from sources within it, and as to the validity of a tax upon solicitation within the the contracts are not here involved.

23 F.Supp. 353 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of a three-judge District Court enjoining the collection of a state tax.

Page 305 U. S. 411



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