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U.S. Supreme Court

Miller Brothers Co. v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 340 (1954)

Miller Brothers Co. v. Maryland

No. 160

Argued January 5, 1954

Decided April 5, 1954

347 U.S. 340


A Delaware merchandising corporation sells directly to customers at its store in Delaware. It does not accept mail or telephone orders, and makes no solicitation of customers other than by newspaper, radio, and occasional direct mail advertising. Residents of nearby Maryland come to the store and make purchases which they take away or which are delivered to them in Maryland by common carrier or by the store's own truck. Maryland lays upon its residents an excise tax on "the use, storage, or consumption" in the State of such articles, and it requires every vendor to collect and remit the tax to the State. The Delaware store did not do this, and a truck belonging to it was seized in Maryland and held liable for the use tax on all goods sold to Maryland residents, however delivered.

Held: The Maryland taxing act, as applied to this Delaware store, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 347 U. S. 341-347.

(a) Seizure of property by a State under pretext of taxation when there is no jurisdiction or power to tax is confiscation, and a denial of due process of law. P. 347 U. S. 342.

(b) The Delaware corporation, by its acts or course of dealing, has not subjected itself to the taxing power of Maryland, and has not afforded to that State a jurisdiction or power to impose upon it a liability for collection of the Maryland tax. Pp. 347 U. S. 344-346.

(c) Due process requires some definite link, some minimum connection, between a state and the person, property or transaction it seeks to tax. Pp. 347 U. S. 344-345.

(d) Maryland could not have reached this Delaware vendor with a sales tax on these sales, and cannot make them a basis for imposing on the vendor liability for use taxes due from Maryland residents. Pp. 347 U. S. 345-346.

(e) General Trading Co. v. State Tar Comm'n, 322 U. S. 335, distinguished. Pp. 346- 347 U. S. 347.

201 Md. 535, 95 A.2d 286, reversed and remanded. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 347 U. S. 341

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