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U.S. Supreme Court

Federal Land Bank v. Bismarck Co. of St. Paul, 314 U.S. 95 (1941)

Federal Land Bank v. Bismarck Co. of St. Paul

No. 76

Argued October 23, 1941

Decided November 10, 1941

314 U.S. 95


1. As construed by the highest court of the State, the purchaser is liable for the sales tax imposed by North Dakota Laws of 1937, c. 249, and this construction is controlling. P. 314 U. S. 99.

2. Section 26 of the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 exempts a federal land bank from the tax imposed by North Dakota Laws of 1937, c. 249, in respect of purchases, made by the bank from a retail dealer, of materials for the improvement of property theretofore acquired by the bank in the course of its operations. P. 314 U. S. 99.

3. In the provision of § 26 that every federal land bank, "including the capital and reserve or surplus therein and the income derived therefrom," shall be exempt from state taxation, the words quoted do not delimit the scope of the exemption. P. 314 U. S. 99.

4. Nothing in the legislative history of § 26, nor of similar exemption clauses in other statutes, requires a result contrary to that here reached. P. 314 U. S. 100. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 314 U. S. 96

5. A tax upon the sale of materials to be used in improving real estate is not a tax upon the real estate, and therefore the tax here involved is not within the exception from the exemption. P. 314 U. S. 101.

6. The exercise by the Federal Government of a power delegated to it by the Constitution is governmental, and, when Congress constitutionally creates a corporation through which the Federal Government lawfully acts, the activities of such corporation are governmental. P. 314 U. S. 102.

7. Federal land banks are created constitutionally; they are federal instrumentalities engaged in the performance of an important governmental function. P. 314 U. S. 102.

8. Congress constitutionally may immunize from state taxation the lending functions (or activities incidental thereto) of federal land banks. P. 314 U. S. 103.

9. It is for Congress to determine whether immunity from one type of tax, rather than another, is wise. P. 314 U. S. 104.

70 N.D. 607; 297 N.W. 42, reversed.

Certiorari, 313 U.S. 556, to review the affirmance of a judgment against the bank for the amount of a state sales tax.

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