Ohio v. Helvering, 292 U.S. 360 (1934)
U.S. Supreme CourtOhio v. Helvering, 292 U.S. 360 (1934)
Ohio v. Helvering
No. ___, original
Return to Rule to Show Cause Presented April 30, 1934
Decided May 21, 1934
292 U.S. 360
1. The instrumentalities, means, and operations whereby the states exert the governmental powers belonging to them are exempt from taxation by the United States. P. 292 U. S. 368.
2. The immunity of the states from federal taxation under the above-stated rule is limited to those agencies which are of a governmental character. P. 292 U. S. 368.
3. Whenever a state engages in a business of a private nature, it exercises nongovernmental functions, and the business, though conducted by the state, is not immune from the federal taxing power. P. 292 U. S. 368.
4. Where a state engages in the business of distributing and selling intoxicating liquors, though pursuant to a legislative enactment providing a system of liquor control, it is not immune from the federal tax imposed on liquor dealers by R.S., § 3244. Following South Carolina v. United States, 199 U. S. 437. P. 292 U. S. 368.
5. Though the Eighteenth Amendment outlawed the liquor traffic, it did not have the effect of converting what had always been a private activity into a governmental function. P. 292 U. S. 369.
6. As applied to business activities, the police power is the power to regulate those activities, not to engage in carrying them on. P. 292 U. S. 369.
7. Whether the word "person" or "corporation," as used in a statute, includes a state or the United States depends upon the connection in which the word is found. P. 292 U.S. 370.
8. As used in 26 U.S.C. § 205, which imposes a tax upon every person who deals in intoxicating liquors, the word " person " is held to include a state, either under the statutory extension of the word to include a corporation (26 U.S.C. § 11) or without regard to such extension. P. 292 U. S. 371.
This was a motion by the State of Ohio for leave to file a bill of complaint invoking the original jurisdiction of this Court. The state was seeking to enjoin the enforcement against it of federal statutes imposing taxes upon dealers in intoxicating liquors.