Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Fox
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298 U.S. 193 (1936)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Fox, 298 U.S. 193 (1936)
Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Fox
Argued March 9, 10, 1936
Decided May 18, 1936
298 U.S. 193
1. Intangible property, such as accounts receivable and bank deposits, may have a situs for taxation by a State other than that of the owner's domicile through being part of a business localized in the taxing State. P. 298 U. S. 208.
2. The State in which intangible property belonging to a foreign corporation is thus localized cannot be denied constitutional power to tax it upon the ground that, by legal fiction, the property is so attributable to the State by which the corporation was chartered as to vest in that State the sole power to tax it. P. 298 U. S. 211.
So held where the corporation maintained in the its incorporation an office styled its "principal" office, in which a duplicate stock ledger and records of capital stock transactions were kept, but actually conducted its business outside of that State.
3. A Delaware manufacturing corporation conducted none of its business in that State, but established its commercial domicile in West Virginia. There it maintained its general business offices where its general accounts were kept and in which its stockholders and directors held their meetings and from which its officers managed and controlled its operations, including what was done in its plants and sales offices in other States. All contracts of sale were subject to the approval of this main office, and all invoices were payable there. It had bank deposits outside of West Virginia, resulting from deposits by its West Virginia office of commercial paper received from customers, which deposits were used in meeting payrolls and in paying for materials, equipment, and maintenance and operating expenses in the course of its manufacturing activities but were drawn upon only by the West Virginia office or under its direction.
Held, that the bank deposits and accounts receivable for goods made at the plants and sold through the sales offices were taxable by West Virginia. P. 298 U. S. 211.
Note: The West Virginia assessment, as amended and approved by the state court, permitted a deduction of an amount taxed by
the Ohio on "accounts and notes receivable." The record, however, presents the question of the constitutionality of the tax in West Virginia, and no question of the amount or validity of any tax assessed elsewhere.
4. The West Virginia statutes, as construed by the state court, tax only such part of the intangible property of a foreign corporation as, upon the facts and the applicable principles of law, the State may rightfully tax. P. 298 U. S. 215.
5. No delegation of authority violative of the Federal Constitution exists in permitting the state tax officials to fix the assessment of intangible property of a foreign corporation by applying the law to the facts, subject to review by the state courts and ultimately to review, a to any federal questions arising, by this Court. P. 298 U. S. 215.
6. The assertion that the West Virginia tax on intangible property of foreign business corporations, in comparison with taxes on property of natural persons, railroads, and other public utilities, denies to business corporations the equal protection of the laws, is not sustained by the record in this case. P. 298 U. S. 215.
Appeal from a judgment of a Circuit Court of West Virginia in a statutory proceeding for the review of a tax assessment. The Supreme Court of Appeals of the State denied a writ of error, the judgment having been entered pursuant to its decision on a previous review. In re Wheeling Steel Corporation Assessment, 115 W.Va. 553, 177 S.E. 535.