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U.S. Supreme Court

Atlantic Lumber Co. v. Commissioner, 298 U.S. 553 (1936)

Atlantic Lumber Co. v. Commissioner of

Corporations and Taxation of Massachusetts

No. 715

Argued April 2, 1936

Decided May 25, 1936

298 U.S. 553


1. A corporation, organized under the laws of Delaware and engaged in the wholesale lumber business, had its principal office in Massachusetts. The corporate books and records were kept in Massachusetts; there also the treasurer of the company was located, directors' meetings were held, and dividends declared. It maintained within the State a sales office, which was used as a headquarters for its salesmen, who solicited orders both within and outside of the State. No stocks of lumber were kept within the State, the only tangible property there being office equipment and salesmen's automobiles. Orders received at the Massachusetts office were filled from a distributing yard or a mill of a subsidiary, both located outside of the State. Remittances from its customers were made to the Massachusetts office. Of several bank accounts, the one which it maintained within the State was the most active, and such dividends as had been paid were paid out of that account. The company owned practically all the stock of three subsidiaries, two of which were engaged in cutting timber and manufacturing lumber in other States, and the third merely holding title to timber lands in another State. Held, an excise tax imposed by Massachusetts for the privilege of carrying on business within the State, measured by a percentage of such proportion of the fair value of the capital stock of the corporation as the value of the assets employed within the State bore to the value of its total assets, did not impose an unconstitutional burden upon interstate commerce. Cheney Bros. Co. v. Massachusetts, 246 U. S. 147, followed; Ozark Pipe Line Co. v. Monier, 266 U. S. 555, distinguished. P. 298 U. S. 556.

2. The burden of the tax, if any, on interstate commerce is not immediate and direct, but remote and incidental -- a distinction which, in respect of the class of legislation here involved, marks the line between a tax which is valid and one which is not. P. 298 U. S. 557.

197 N.E. 525 affirmed. chanrobles.com-red

Page 298 U. S. 554

Appeal from a judgment sustaining a decision of the state board of tax appeals and upholding the validity of a corporation privilege tax.