Slike strani
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

is concerned. Bell's Gap R. R. v. Pennsylvania, 134 U. S. 232; Merchants' & Manufacturers' Bank v. Pennsylvania, 167 U. S. 461, 464; Magoun v. Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, 170 U.S. 283, 295. It is doubtful, at least, if any further question should have been asked in this case. Missouri v. Dockery, 191 U. S. 165. But as the claim of right under the United States Constitution was not merely colorable, Penn. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Austin, 168 U. S. 685, 695, and as the evidence is here, we have considered the evidence also, and our conclusion from that, as well as from the law, is that the bill must be dismissed.

Looking first at the assessment of the franchise, there is no such certainty that it was made on a different scale of values from that adopted elsewhere, as would warrant an attack upon it under the Fourteenth Amendment, even if otherwise that attack could be maintained. But the supposed infringement of the Fourteenth Amendment is the only ground on which the railroad company could come into the Circuit Court, and if that ground fails, and obviously fails, the court should be very cautious, at least, in interfering with the State's administration of its taxes upon other considerations which would not have given it jurisdiction.

The undervaluation in the counties, looked at from the point of view just indicated, also does not appear to have been such as to warrant the action of the court. It is not contended that a mere undervaluation would be enough. It is admitted that it must have been systematic and intentional. There is, no doubt, a natural inclination to think such an undervaluation probable when it is suggested. But what is the proof? The state constitution, whatever the statutes may have said, seems popularly to have been understood to have made a great change in the law. Practice before its adoption, therefore hardly can raise a presumption as to practice afterwards, even on the liberal assumption that it properly could be considered in evidence. It is obvious that the accidental sales in a given year may be a misleading guide to average values,


[blocks in formation]

apart from the testimony that some at least of the conveyances did not report true prices, yet they furnish the chief weapon of attack. The testimony as to the board of equalization taking eighty per cent of the reported sales, was explained by the members of the board. It would be going very far to assume that they were committing perjury because to another mind the sales seemed more significant and the explanations not very good. Inequality, we repeat, is nothing, unless it was in pursuance of a scheme. To make out that scheme the anomalous course was followed of putting members of a tribunal established by law upon the witness stand to testify to the operations of their minds in doing the work entrusted to them. Fayerweather v. Ritch, 195 U. S. 276, 306, 307. But the prevailing testimony was that no such scheme was entertained.

Whatever we may surmise or apprehend, making allowance for a certain vagueness of ideas to be expected in the lay mind, for the reasonable differences of opinion among the most instructed and competent men, and for the uncertainty of the elements from which a judgment was to be formed in the first instance, considering the still greater uncertainty of those from which the local judgment must be controlled, if at all, by persons having only the printed record before them, considering further that to maintain the bill imputes perjury to many witnesses whose character is not impeached, and finally recalling once more that we are dealing with a case that properly was not cognizable in the Circuit Court, we are of opinion that the bill must be dismissed.

Decree reversed.

[blocks in formation]






Nos. 360, 361. Argued January 4, 5, 1905.-Decided February 20, 1905.


While technically municipal bonds deposited with the insurance commis

sioner under the laws of Ohio regulating the right of foreign companies to do business within the State are investments in bonds, they are also a part of the capital stock of the company invested in Ohio and required to be so invested for the security of domestic policy holders, and for the purposes of taxation to be considered as part of the capital stock of the company and included within the statutory definition of personal property required to be returned by foreign and domestic corporations for

taxation. While no tax can be levied without express authority of law, statutes are

to receive a reasonable construction with a view to carrying out their

purpose and intent, and The collection by distraint of goods to satisfy taxes lawfully levied is one

of the most ancient methods known to the law and in this case the law of Ohio authorizing it does not violate the constitutional right of a foreign insurance company and deprive it of its property without due process

of law. There is nothing in the exemption of Government bonds from taxation which

prevents them from being seized for taxes due upon unexempt property. The laws of the State of Ohio as construed by the Supreme Court of that

State have conferred the right to tax bonds deposited by a foreign insurance company with the insurance commissioner under the laws regulating

the right to do business in the State. Where municipal bonds so deposited are withdrawn before the return day

and Government bonds substituted therefor as provided by law the

company is not liable for taxation on the bonds so withdrawn. Where there is no personal liability for taxes the defense can be set up

in an action at law and there is no necessity to resort to equity to enjoin prosecution of suits therefor. It will be presumed that if the claim of the party taxed is right no personal judgment will be entered.

THESE cases are cross-appeals from a decree rendered in the Circuit Court upon bill and demurrer. The Scottish Union

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

and National Insurance Company, a corporation of Great Britain, filed its bill to enjoin the defendants Willis G. Bowland, treasurer, and L. Ewing. Jones, auditor of Franklin County, Ohio; Arthur I. Vorys, superintendent of insurance, and William S. McKinnon, treasurer, of the State of Ohio, from the collection of taxes levied on certain bonds deposited by the complainant under the laws of Ohio regulating the right of foreign insurance companies to do business in that State. It appears from the averments of the bill that the bonds were deposited under section 3660 of the Revised Statutes of Ohio, as amended in 1894. 91 Ohio Laws, 40. They were municipal bonds of the county of Lucas and State of Ohio. Fifty thousand dollars thereof was deposited on September 14, 1894, and $50,000 on November 7, 1894. The bonds were registered in the name of the superintendent of insurance, in trust for the benefit and security of the policyholders of the insurance company, residing in Ohio, and were delivered by him to the state treasurer for safe keeping, and remained in the office of the treasurer of the State at Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, until withdrawn on April 2, 1903, when United States bonds were substituted therefor.

The insurance company is transacting the business of insurance in Ohio, but it avers that its home office is in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and its chief office and managing agency for this country is at Hartford, Connecticut, from which office it conducts its business in Ohio.

Acting under the Ohio statute, section 2781a (94 Ohio Laws, 62), the auditor of Franklin County, by notice served on one of the local agents of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, notified it to appear and show cause vhy the said bonds should not be taxed against it on the duplicate of Franklin County, Ohio, and taxes collected thereon for the years 1895 to 1900, inclusive. The auditor entered upon the tax duplicate taxes against the insurance company for $2,700 each for the years 1895 to 1897, inclusive, and $2,750 each for the years 1898 to 1900 inclusive, and five per cent

[blocks in formation]

penalty thereon.

On November 15, 1900, the treasurer of Franklin County brought a civil action against the company for taxes so assessed. This action at the time of the filing of the bill was still pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Ohio.

On December 4, 1903, another notice was served upon the company, through its local agent, and the auditor entered taxes against such company for the years 1901, 1902 and 1903, in all the sum of $8,935.50. On April 2, 1904, the treasurer of Franklin County procured a warrant of distraint, and upon such warrant demanded of the superintendent of insurance and the state treasurer the United States bonds so substituted on April 2, 1903, for such municipal bonds, for the purpose of seizing and selling the same to satisfy the taxes which had been assessed against the company with respect to the municipal bonds for the years 1895 to 1903, inclusive. It is averred that to permit the collection of these taxes by suit for personal judgment or distraint will be violative of complainant's treaty rights as a subject of Great Britain, and will be taking complainant's property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The prayer of the bill is, that the defendant, the treasurer of Franklin County, be restrained from collecting or attempting to collect any of the taxes against the complainant personally; that the said treasurer be restrained from collecting or attempting to collect said taxes or any portion of them by distraint against either such bonds of the United States so deposited or any personal property of complainant which may now or hereafter be situated in the county of Franklin or the State of Ohio; that the defendants, the superintendent of insurance and treasurer of the State of Ohio, be enjoined from delivering or attempting to deliver said United States bonds or any part thereof to the said county treasurer, and for such other relief as equity and good conscience may require.

The respondents having interposed demurrers to the bill,

« PrejšnjaNaprej »