Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry Railway Company v. Kentucky

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Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry Railway Company v. Kentucky

United States Supreme Court

188 U.S. 385

Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry Railway Company  v.  Kentucky

 Argued: January 17, 1902. ---

Ordered for reargument

Reargued December 8, 9, 1902.

Decided February 23, 1903.

This action was brought against the Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry Company, a corporation of Kentucky, to recover certain taxes alleged to be due that commonwealth in virtue of the valuation and assessment by the state board of valuation and assessment of the corporate franchise of the defendant company for the year 1894.

Some of the provisions of the Revised Statutes of Kentucky under which that board proceeded are given in the margin. [1]

The company filed an answer, which upon demurrer was adjudged to be insufficient. The defendant declining to answer further, judgment was rendered for the commonwealth. That judgment was affirmed by the court of appeals of Kentucky, and the case is here upon writ of error sued out by the ferry company. The ground of our jurisdiction is that the company claims that, by the judgment of the highest court of Kentucky, affirming the judgment of the court of original jurisdiction, it has been denied rights belonging to it under the Constitution of the United States.

The facts admitted by the demurrer to the answer and therefore, for the purposes of the present hearing, to be taken as true, are substantially as follows:

By an act of the general assembly of Kentucky, approved March the 16th, 1869, the Louisville & Jeffersonville Ferry Company was created a corporation, with power to carry on the business of ferrying freight, passengers, and vehicles over the Ohio river, and to purchase ferryboats, wharves, and ferry franchises for any ferry or ferries between Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana; and upon the purchase of such franchises to have the right to carry on and conduct a ferry or ferries between those cities. It was also authorized to accept boats, franchises, wharves, and other property in payment of stock subscribed and at such prices as might be agreed on.

In the year of 1802, William Henry Harrison, then governor and commander-in-chief of the Indiana territory, granted to Marsden G. Clark a license for a ferry at Jeffersonville, Indiana, for the transportation of passengers, carriages, horses, and cattle across the Ohio river at that place.

In the same year Governor Harrison granted to one Joseph Bowman a license to keep a ferry from the landing near the spring in the town of Jeffersonville across the Ohio river to the public road at the mouth of Bear Grass creek in Kentucky.

In 1820 George White, by an act of the Indiana legislature, was authorized to keep a ferry in the town of Jeffersonville, and to ferry off and from any portion of the public ground or commons in that town lying upon or bordering upon the Ohio river across that river to the opposite shore or mouth of Bear Grass creek, that creek being then as well as now within the corporate limits of Louisville and near the point at which the defendant company now lands its ferryboats in Kentucky.

These three ferry franchises, about the year 1837, vested in A. Wathen, Charles Strader, John Shallcross, and James Thompson, and in 1865 came to be owned by John Shallcross, Moses Brown, Hiram Mayberry, James Wathen, A. Wathen, Charles Woolfolk & Co., J. B. Smith, W. C. Hite, E. S. Hoffman, P. Varble, and Daniel Park. During all the intervening years ferries had been maintained.


^1  '§ 4077. Every railway company, . . . and every other like company, corporation, or association, also every other corporation, company, or association having or exercising any special or exclusive privilege or franchise not allowed by law to natural persons, or performing any public service, shall, in addition to the other taxes imposed on it by law, annually pay a tax on its franchise to the state, and a local tax thereon to the county, incorporated city, town, and taxing district, where its franchise may be exercised. The auditor, treasurer and secretary of state are hereby constituted a board of valuation and assessment for fixing the value of said franchise, except as to turnpike companies, which are provided for in § 4095 of this article, the place or places where such local taxes are to be paid by other corporations on their franchise, and how apportioned, where more than one jurisdiction is entitled to a share of such tax, shall be determined by the board of valuation and assessment, and for the discharge of such other duties as may be imposed on them by this act. The auditor shall be chairman of said board, and shall convene the same from time to time, as the business of the board may require.

'§ 4078. In order to determine the value of the franchises mentioned in the next preceding section, the corporations, companies, and associations mentioned in the next preceding section, except banks and trust companies whose statements shall be filed as hereinafter required by § 4092 of this article, shall annually, between the 15th day of September and the 1st day of October, make and deliver to the auditor of public accounts of this state a statement, verified by its president, cashier, secretary, treasurer, manager, or other chief officer or agent, in such form as the auditor may prescribe, showing following facts, viz.: The name and principal place of business of the corporation, company, or association; the kind of business engaged in; the amount of capital stock, preferred and common; the number of shares of each; the amount of stock paid up; the par and real

value thereof; the highest price at which such stock was sold at a bona fide sale within twelve months next before the 15th day of September of the year in which the statement is required to be made; the amount of surplus fund and undivided profits, and the value of all other assets; the total amount of indebtedness as principal; the amount of gross or net earnings or income, including interest on investments and incomes from all other sources for twelve months next preceding the 15th day of September of the year in which the statement is required; the amount and kind of tangible property in this state, and where situated, assessed, or liable to assessment in this state, and the fair cash value thereof, estimated at the price it would bring at a fair voluntary sale; and such other facts as the auditor may require.

'§ 4079. Where the line or lines of any such corporation, company, or association extend beyond the limits of the state or county, the statement shall, in addition to the other facts hereinbefore required, show the length of the entire lines operated, owned, leased, or controlled in this state, and in each county, incorporated city, town, or taxing district, and the entire line operated, controlled, leased, or owned elsewhere. If the corporation, company, or association be organized under the laws of any other state or government, or organized and incorporated in this state, but operating and conducting its business in other states as well as in this state, the statement shall show the following facts, in addition to the facts hereinbefore required: The gross and net income or earnings received in this state and out of this state, on business done in this state, and the entire gross receipts of the corporation, company, or association in this state and elsewhere during the twelve months next before the 15th day of September of the year in which the assessment is required to be made. In cases where any of the facts above required are impossible to be answered correctly, or will not afford any valuable information in determining the value of the franchises to be taxed, the said board may excuse the officer from answering such questions: Provided, That said board, from said statement, and from such other evidence as it may have, if such corporation, company, or association be organized under the laws of this state, shall fix the value of the capital stock of the corporation, company, or association, as provided in the next succeeding section, and from the amount thus flxed shall deduct the assessed value of all tangible property assessed in this state, or in the counties where situated. The remainder thus found shall be the value of its corporate franchise subject to taxation as aforesaid.'

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).