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U.S. Supreme Court

Western Live Stock v. Bureau of Revenue, 303 U.S. 250 (1938)

Western Live Stock v. Bureau of Revenue

No. 322

Argued January 31, 1938

Decided February 28, 1938

303 U.S. 250


1. The mere formation of a contract between persons of different States is not within the protection of the commerce clause, unless the performance is within its protection, at least in the absence of Congressional action. P. 303 U. S. 253.

2. Taxation of a local business or occupation which is separate and distinct from the transportation and intercourse which are interstate commerce is not forbidden merely because, in the ordinary course, such transportation or intercourse is induced or occasioned by the business. P. 303 U. S. 253.

3. A statute of New Mexico levied on all engaged within the State in the business of publishing newspapers or magazines a privilege tax of 2% on the gross receipts from the sale of advertising. Appellants, whose only office and place of business was within the State, prepared, edited, and published there a journal the circulation of which was partly interstate. Part of their receipts from advertising was derived from contracts with advertisers out of the State. Such contracts involved interstate transmission, from advertisers to appellants, of cuts, mats, information, copy, etc.; also payment through interstate facilities. Held, the tax, as applied to appellants in respect of the sums received under such advertising contracts, did not infringe the commerce clause of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 303 U. S. 259-260.

So far as the advertising rates reflected a value attributable to the maintenance of a circulation of the magazine interstate, the burden on the interstate business was too remote and too attenuated to call for a rigidly logical application of the doctrine that gross receipts from interstate commerce may not be made the measure of a tax.

4. The commerce clause does not relieve those engaged in interstate commerce from their just share of the state tax burden, even though the cost of doing the business be thereby increased. P. 303 U. S. 254.

5. The vice characteristic of such local taxes, measured by gross receipts from interstate commerce, as have been held invalid was that they placed on the commerce burdens of such a nature as chanrobles.com-red

Page 303 U. S. 251

were capable, in point of substance, of being imposed, or added to, with equal right by every State which the commerce touched, merely because interstate commerce was being done, so that, without the protection of the commerce clause, it would bear cumulative burdens not imposed on local commerce. The tax here involved is not subject to that objection. P. 303 U. S. 255.

6. The business of preparing, printing and publishing magazine advertising is peculiarly local, and distinct from its circulation, whether or not that circulation be interstate commerce. P. 303 U. S. 258.

7. In reconciling opposing demands that interstate commerce bear its share of local taxation, and, on the other hand, not be subjected to multiple tax burdens merely because it is interstate commerce, practical, rather than logical, distinctions must be sought. P. 303 U. S. 259.

8. Fisher's Blend Station v. State Tax Comm'n, 297 U. S. 650, and Crew Levick Co. v. Pennsylvania, 245 U. S. 292, distinguished. Pp. 303 U. S. 260-261.

41 N.M. 28, 67 P.2d 505, affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment affirming a judgment against the appellants in a suit brought by them to recover taxes paid under protest and alleged to have been unlawfully exacted.


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