Lee v. Bickell,
292 U.S. 415 (1934)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lee v. Bickell, 292 U.S. 415 (1934)

Lee v. Bickell

No. 944

Argued May 10, 1934

Decided May 21, 1934

292 U.S. 415


1. Equity jurisdiction exists to enjoin numerous and repeated impositions of an unlawful tax for which redress at law would entail a multiplicity of actions. P. 292 U. S. 421.

2. In a suit in the federal court to enjoin the imposition of stamp taxes on documents connected with the transactions in a broker's office, the jurisdictional amount consists of the taxes claimed by the taxing authority and resisted by the complainant. P. 292 U. S. 421.

3. The tax imposed by Laws of Florida, 1931, c. 15,787, on memoranda of sales or deliveries of stock relates to the memorandum in prescribed form which must be executed by the seller in case of an agreement to sell or where a transfer is executed by delivery of the certificate assigned in blank -- a memorandum to be handed by the seller to the buyer as an evidence of the contract or as a muniment of title. P. 421.

Page 292 U. S. 416

4. A to purchases and sale of stock made on an exchange in another State for Florida customers through brokers having a branch office in Florida, this statute does not intend that tax stamps shall be affixed to telegrams announcing such transactions sent from the main office and received in and reduced to writing in the Florid office, or to copies of such telegrams delivered by the branch office to the customer, or to receipts signed in Florida by the customer when shares purchased for his account in the other State are sent to him directly from the main office, or to receipts delivered by the branch office to the customer for certificates to be sold, or to written orders to sell delivered by the customer to the branch. P. 292 U. S. 422.

5. An order to sell securities delivered by a customer to a broker is not an agreement to sell. P. 292 U. S. 424.

6. When this Court sustains an injunction against a state tax as unauthorized by a state statute, without passing upon objections to it raised under the Federal Constitution, the decree should be so framed that the case may be reopened if it should appear that the state supreme court has construed the statute as applicable. P. 292 U. S. 425.

Affirmed with modification.

Appeal from a final decree of the District Court, constituted of three judges, enjoining the Comptroller of the Florida from enforcing a statute for the levy and collection of stamp taxes. For the opinion of the court below accompanying the granting of an interlocutory injunction, see 5 F.Supp. 720.

Page 292 U. S. 417

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