People v. Commissioners of Taxes and Assessments,
94 U.S. 415 (1876)

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U.S. Supreme Court

People v. Commissioners of Taxes and Assessments, 94 U.S. 415 (1876)

People v. Commissioners of Taxes and Assessments

94 U.S. 415


1. The shares of stock of a national bank in New York should be assessed for taxation at their actual value.

2. The ruling in Van Allen v. Assessors, 3 Wall. 573, as to the invalidity of the Act of the Legislature of New York of March 9, 1865, known as the Enabling Act, so far as it provided for the taxation of shares in a national bank, reaffirmed.

The relator, the Gallatin National Bank of the City of New York, was, prior to 1864, a state bank, incorporated under the general banking laws of New York. It surrendered that charter and was reorganized as a national bank, under the Act of Congress of June 3, 1864, 13 Stat. 99, known as the National Banking Act, and c. 97 of the laws of 1865 of New York, known as the "Enabling Act," with a capital of $1,500,000 divided into thirty thousand shares of $50 each.

The bank has reserved from profits $300,000. It also holds, on deposit with the Treasurer, bonds of the United States of the par value of $591,000, on which the premium, estimated at twenty percent, would be $118,200, so that the bank has, in addition to its capital, a surplus of $418,200.

The commissioners of taxes and assessments of the City of New York having signified their intention to tax this surplus, the president of the bank made a statement of its condition. Its capital and surplus were shown to be $1,918,200, which, on a division, would make each share $63.60. As those bonds were liable to daily and almost hourly fluctuation, and so might slightly exceed the estimate, he made affidavit that the value of each share did not exceed $64.

Thereupon the commissioners, deducting $5 per share as the proportion of the assessed value of the bank's real estate, took $59 as the valuation of each share, and imposed the tax accordingly. The relator, to test the validity of such assessment, sued out of the supreme court of the state a writ of certiorari, which, upon a hearing, was quashed, and it thereupon appealed to the Court of Appeals, where the judgment below was affirmed. It then brought the case here.

Page 94 U. S. 416

The statutes bearing upon the question at issue are set forth in the opinion of the Court.

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