« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court.
lons of gasoline in the gasoline tank of such automobile or truck or in auxiliary tanks of said trucks to be used as motor fuel in said truck or motor vehicles until the state tax thereon [six and one-half cents per gallon ?] has been paid."
Appellee, a Delaware corporation, operates passenger busses propelled by gasoline motors, from Memphis, Tennessee across Arkansas to St. Louis, Missouri, and in reverse. The route between these points approximates 342 miles—3 in Tennessee, 78 in Arkansas, 261 in Missouri. Like busses ply between Memphis and points within and beyond Arkansas, and in reverse. It is only necessary now to consider the facts connected with operation of the Memphis-St. Louis line. They are typical.
or cause to be driven into the State of Arkansas any automobile or truck carrying over twenty (20) gallons of gasoline in the gasoline tank of such automobile or truck or in auxiliary tanks of said trucks to be used as motor fuel in said truck or motor vehicles until the state tax thereon has been paid.
“Section 2. Any person, co-partnership or company violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding one hundred ($100) dollars. Each load carried into the state shall constitute a separate offense.
"Section 3. All laws and parts of laws in conflict herewith are hereby repealed. It is ascertained that this Act is necessary to better enforce the gasoline collection laws and said Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist and this Act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage.”
* Act 11 Extraordinary Sessions Arkansas, approved February 12, 1934—
"Section 22. Paragraph (c) of Section 1 of Act No. 63 of the General Assembly, approved February 25, 1931, is amended to read as follows:
“'(c) There is hereby levied a privilege or excise tax of six and one-half cents on each gallon of motor vehicle fuel as defined in this Act, sold or used in this State or purchased for sale or use in this State.'
Each bus consumes about one gallon of gasoline for every five miles traversed. Sixty-eight gallons are required for the journey from Memphis to St. Louis—under one in Tennessee, sixteen in Arkansas, fifty-one in Missouri. The practice is to place in the bus tank at Memphis the sixtyeight gallons of gasoline commonly required for the trip; also ten more to meet any emergency. Thus upon arrival at the Arkansas line the tank contains some seventyseven gallons of which sixteen probably will be consumed within that State. As a condition precedent to entry there, appellant-revenue officer of the State demands that each bus pay six and one-half cents upon every gallon of this gasoline above twenty, and threatens enforcement.
By a bill in the District Court, appellee unsuccessfully sought an injunction against this threatened action. The Circuit Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit took a different view.
After accepting as correct the ruling in Sparling v. Refunding Board, 189 Ark. 189, 199; 71 S. W. 2d 182, 186, that the tax imposed was not upon property but on the privilege of using the highways, and had been definitely allocated to highway purposes, the latter court said
"The appellant does not now contend that the tax of which it complains may not be imposed by the State of Arkansas with respect to gasoline consumed or to be consumed upon the highways of Arkansas, as compensation for the use of the highways, but it does contend that that State may not impose a tax upon gasoline which is carried in interstate commerce for use in Missouri or Tennessee, because that would constitute a direct and unreasonable burden upon interstate commerce."
"Reduced to its lowest possible terms, the question for decision, we think, is whether the imposition of the tax upon gasoline carried, for use in other states, in the fuel
Opinion of the Court.
tank of a motor vehicle traveling in interstate commerce can be sustained. That the tax is a direct burden on interstate commerce, cannot be controverted.”
"If it is to be sustained at all with respect to gasoline to be used in other states, it must be sustained upon the theory that the method employed for determining the amount of the tax constitutes a fair measure for ascertaining the compensation which lawfully may be exacted by Arkansas from the appellant for the use which it makes of the highways of the State.”
“While we can understand how the use of state highways by a carrier can be roughly measured by the amount of gasoline which that carrier uses to move its vehicles over the highways, we are unable to comprehend how the use of the highways of one state can appropriately be measured by the amount of gasoline carried in the fuel tank of an interstate carrier for use upon the highways of another state.” 101 F. 2d 572, 574.
Also, it declared the point in issue is ruled by Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey, 283 U. S. 183, 186, which held invalid a tax laid by Tennessee's Legislature on the privilege of operating a bus in interstate commerce because not imposed solely as compensation for the use of highways or to defray the expense of regulating motor traffic.
Finally, it reversed the District Court and directed entry of a decree there enjoining appellant “from enforcing the challenged tax against it [the appellee] with respect to all gasoline in the fuel tanks of its interstate busses which is being carried through Arkansas for use in other states."
This action we approve.
The often announced rule is that while generally a state may not directly burden interstate commerce by taxation she may require all who use her roads to make reasonable compensation therefor. Hendrick v. Maryland, 235 U. S.
610, 622; Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey, supra, 185, 186; Bingaman v. Golden Eagle Western Lines, 297 U. S. 626, 628.
Here, the revenue officer demanded payment of appellee on account of gasoline to be immediately transported over the roads of Arkansas for consumption beyond. If, considering all the circumstances, this imposition reasonably can be regarded as proper compensation for using the roads it is permissible. But the facts disclosed are incompatible with that view. A fair charge could have no reasonable relation to such gasoline. That could not be even roughly computed by considering only the contents of the tank. Moreover, we find no purpose to exact fair compensation only from all who make use of the highways. Twenty gallons of gasoline ordinarily will propel a bus across the State and if only that much is in the tank at the border no charge whatever is made. Evidently large use without compensation is permissible and easy to obtain.
The point here involved has been much discussed. Our opinions above referred to and others there cited define the applicable principles. The present controversy is within those approved by Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey, supra. Neither Hicklin v. Coney, 290 U. S. 169, nor Bingaman v. Golden Eagle Western Lines, supra, relied upon by appellant's counsel, properly understood, sanctions a different view. The challenged judgment must be
Affirmed. MR. JUSTICE MURPHY took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE STONE, concurring:
The CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS, MR. JUSTICE REED, and I agree with MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS, but we think a word should be said of appellant's contention
STONE, J., concurring.
that the tax in its practical operation may be taken as a fair measure of respondent's use of the highways.
Since the subject taxed, gasoline introduced into the state in the tank of a vehicle, for use solely in propelling it in interstate commerce, is immune from state taxation except for a limited state purpose, the exaction of a reasonable charge for the use of its highways, it is not enough that the tax when collected is expended upon the state's highways. It must appear on the face of the statute or be demonstrable that the tax as laid is measured by or has some fair relationship to the use of the highways for which the charge is made. Sprout v. City of South Bend, 277 U. S. 163, 170; Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey, 283 U. S. 183, 186; Bingaman v. Golden Eagle Western Lines, 297 U. S. 626, 628; Morf v. Bingaman, 298 U. S. 407; Ingels v. Morf, 300 U. S. 290, 294.
While the present tax, laid on gasoline in the tank in excess of twenty gallons, admittedly has no necessary or apparent relationship to any use of the highways intrastate, appellant argues that, as applied to the reserve gasoline in each of appellee's vehicles, the tax either is, or with a reduction of the reserves would be, substantially equivalent to a tax which the state could lay, but has not, on the gasoline consumed within the state. That could be true only in case the taxed gasoline, said to be reserved for the extrastate journey, were by chance or design of substantially the same amount as that consumed intrastate.
That the relationship between tax and highway use does not in fact exist as the business is now conducted, is demonstrated by appellant's showing that on all of appellee's routes, taken together, the taxed gasoline which is reserved for extrastate use is substantially more than that consumed on those routes within the state. In three the taxed reserve in excess of the twenty gallons exemption is substantially the same as the amount of the intra