Welch v. Cook
97 U.S. 541 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Welch v. Cook, 97 U.S. 541 (1878)

Welch v. Cook

97 U.S. 541

Syllabus

1. The act of the Legislative Assembly of the District of Columbia of June 26, 1873, exempting from general taxes for ten years thereafter such real and personal property as might be actually employed within said District for manufacturing purposes provided its value should not be less than $5,000, did not create an irrepealable contract with the owners of such property, but merely conferred a bounty liable at any time to be withdrawn.

2. Congress, by the Act of June 20, 1874, 18 Stat. 117, which superseded the then existing government of the District, declared that for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875, there should

"be levied on all real estate in said District, except that belonging to the United States and to the District of Columbia, and that used for educational and charitable purposes"

certain specified taxes. Held that under said act, real property used for manufacturing purposes, although within the exemption granted by the act of the legislative assembly, became subject to taxation.

On the 26th of June, 1873, the Legislative Assembly of the District of Columbia enacted that

"All property, real and personal, which may hereafter be actually employed within the limits of the District of Columbia for manufacturing purposes, shall be exempt from all general taxes for a period of ten years from the date of this act going into effect, provided that the value of the property so employed for manufacturing purposes shall not be less than $5,000."

Laws Dist. of Col. 126.

The fourth section of the Act of Congress approved June 20, 1874, 18 Stat. 117, enacts as follows:

"That for the support of the government of the District of Columbia, and maintaining the credit thereof, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875, there shall be levied on all real estate in said District, except that belonging to the United States and to the District of Columbia, and that used for educational and charitable purposes, the following taxes, namely."

Under this act, the Commissioners of the District assessed, for the taxes for the year ending June, 1875, certain real property of Welch within the District which was employed for manufacturing purposes and was of the value of $5,000.

His bill of complaint alleges that one faith of the above

Page 97 U. S. 542

act of the legislative assembly, he expended large sums of money in improving his said property; that in pursuance of the said act, the commissioners exempted it from the taxes of the year ending June, 1874, but are now about to sell it for the taxes of 1875, and that these proceedings cast a cloud upon his title. He asks for a perpetual injunction to restrain the collection of these taxes and for such other relief as may be necessary.

To this bill the defendants, who are the tax collector and the commissioners of the District, demurred. The demurrer was sustained at the special term of the Supreme Court of the District, which action having been affirmed at the general term, Welch appealed to this Court.

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