Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf R. Co. v. Harrison
235 U.S. 292 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf R. Co. v. Harrison, 235 U.S. 292 (1914)

Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf

Railroad Company v. Harrison

No. 45

Argued November 3, 4, 1914

Decided November 30, 1914

235 U.S. 292


A federal instrumentality acting under Congressional authority cannot be subjected to an occupation or privilege tax by a state. Farmers' Bank v. Minnesota, 232 U. S. 516.

Where the agreement between the government and an Indian tribe imposes upon the government a definite duty in regard to operation of coal mines, as is the case with the Choctaw and Chickasaw agreement of April 23, 1897, lessees of the mines are the instrumentalities through which the obligation of the United States is carried into effect, and they cannot be subjected to an occupation or privilege tax by the state in which the mines are located. Neither state courts nor legislatures, by giving a tax a particular name, can take from this Court its duty to consider its real nature and effect. Galveston &c. Ry. Co. v. Texas, 210 U. S. 227. Where the manifest purpose of a gross revenue tax equal to a specified percentage on gross receipts from production of a mine in addition to

Page 235 U. S. 293

taxes levied and collected upon an ad valorem basis, is to reach all sales and secure such percentage, the tax is, in effect, a privilege or occupation tax, and so held as to such a tax imposed by Oklahoma on persons engaged in mining and producing coal.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of a gross revenue tax levied by the State of Oklahoma on persons engaged in mining and the production of coal, and the power of a state to tax instrumentalities of the federal government, are stated in the opinion.

Page 235 U. S. 295

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