Wisconsin Central R. Co. v. Price County,
133 U.S. 496 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wisconsin Central R. Co. v. Price County, 133 U.S. 496 (1890)

Wisconsin Central Railroad Company v. Price County

No. 76

Argued and submitted November 6-7, 1889

Decided March 3, 1890

133 U.S. 496




No state has power to tax the property of the United States within its limits.

Where Congress has prescribed conditions upon which portions of the public domain may be alienated, and has provided that upon the performance of the conditions, a patent shall issue to the donee or purchaser, and all such conditions have been complied with, and the tract to be alienated is distinctly defined, and nothing remains but to issue the patent, then the donee or purchaser is to be treated as the beneficial owner of the land, holding it as his own property, subject to state and local taxation; but when an official executive act prescribed by law remains to be done before the tract can be distinctly defined and before a patent can issue, the legal and equitable titles remain in the United States, and the land is not subject to local taxation.

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