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U.S. Supreme Court

State Board of Tax Commissioners v. Jackson, 283 U.S. 527 (1931)

State Board of Tax Commissioners of Indiana v. Jackson

No. 183

Argued March 5, 1931

Decided May 18, 1931

283 U.S. 527


1. Failure of the District Court to make findings of fact as now required by Equity Rule 70 1/2 does not necessitate remanding a case tried before the rule was adopted. P. 283 U. S. 533.

2. In classifying businesses for taxation, the legislature is not confined to the value of the business taxed, but may have regard for other elements. P. 283 U. S. 536.

3. As applied to the fundamental state power of taxation, the equal protection clause does not compel the adoption of an iron rule of equal taxation, nor prevent variety or differences in taxation, or discretion in the selection of subjects, or the classification for taxation of properties, businesses, trades, callings, or occupations. P. 283 U. S. 537.

4. The fact that a statute discriminates in favor of a certain class does not make it arbitrary if the discrimination is founded upon a reasonable distinction, or if any state of facts reasonably can be conceived to sustain it. Id.

5. In determining the validity of a tax under the equal protection clause, it is not for the court to consider the propriety or justice chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 283 U. S. 528

of the tax, or to seek for the motive, or criticize the public policy, which prompted its adoption by the legislature. P. 283 U. S. 537.

6. A legislative classification of occupation for taxation must be sustained if there are substantial differences between them, and the differences need not be great. Id.

7. An Indiana statute lays an annual license tax on stores, increasing progressively with the number of stores under the same general management, supervision, or ownership, such that, in the present case, the owner of a "chain" of some 225 stores selling groceries, fresh vegetables, and meats was obliged to pay $5,443.00, whereas the owner of a single store only, though it involved a much greater investment and income, would pay but $3.00. Held not violative of the equal protection clause in view of the distinctions and advantage which combine and are exerted in a single ownership and management of a series of like stores in different locations, as compared with mere cooperative associations of independent stores, or with department stores selling many kinds of goods under the same roof. Pp. 283 U. S. 532, 283 U. S. 541.

8. The statute is not repugnant to Art. I, § 23, of the Indiana Constitution, providing:

"The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen or class of citizens privileges and immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens,"

nor to Art. 10, § 1, requiring a uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation and just valuations, which, as declared by the state supreme court, applies only to the assessment made under a general levy, and not to occupation or license taxes. P. 283 U. S. 542.

38 F.2d 652 reversed.

Appeal from a decree enjoining the Board of Tax Commissioners from instituting prosecutions against the appellee Jackson for failure to pay license taxes. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 283 U. S. 530

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