Union Refrigerator Transit Company v. Kentucky
United States Supreme Court
UNION REFRIGERATOR TRANSIT COMPANY v. KENTUCKY
Argued: October 13, 16, 1905. --- Decided: November 13, 1905
This proceeding was begun by a statement filed by the revenue agent of the commonwealth in the Jefferson county court, praying that certain personal property belonging to the plaintiff in error be assessed for taxation for state, county, and municipal taxes, and be also adjudged to pay a penalty of 20 per cent on the aggregate amount of the tax.
To this statement the transit company filed certain demurrers and answers, upon which, and upon the deposition of the comptroller of the company in St. Louis, Missouri, the case went to a hearing, and resulted in a finding of facts that the transit company was the owner of 2,000 cars in September, 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1900, to which years the recovery was limited, of the value of $200 each; that its cars were employed by the company by renting them to shippers, who took possession of them from time to time at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and used them for the carriage of freight in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the company being paid by the railroads in proportion to the mileage made over their lines; that the correct method of ascertaining the number of cars which should be assessed for taxation was to ascertain and list such a proportion of its cars as, under a system of averages upon their gross earnings, were shown to be used in the state of Kentucky during the fiscal year, the court finding by this method that there were subject to assessment in Kentucky 28 cars for the year 1897, 29 for the year 1898, 40 for the year 1899, and 67 for 1900.
The court also found that the cars other than those mentioned were not liable to assessment.
The order of the county court was affirmed by the circuit court, and an appeal taken to the court of appeals of Kentucky, which reversed the judgment of the court below, and found that the company was liable to taxation upon its entire number of 2,000 cars, and directed the court below to enter judgment against it for the taxes appropriate to this number. 26 Ky. L. Rep. 23, 80 S. W. 490.
To review this judgment this writ of error was sued out.
Messrs. William H. Field and Alexander Pope Humphrey for plaintiff in error.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 196-199 intentionally omitted]
Messrs. Henry L. Stone, Samuel B. Kirby, and Robert W. Bingham for defendant in error.
Statement by Mr. Justice Brown:
[Argument of Counsel from pages 199-201 intentionally omitted]
Mr. Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the court: