« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court.
erroneous principle. Henderson Bridge Co. v. Commonwealth, 99 Kentucky, 623, 645; Hager v. American Surety Co., 121 Kentucky, 791, 800. It appears that the Board, having received a report from the plaintiff, and having made a tentative assessment of its franchise for taxation for the year 1913, had a hearing upon the matter in the presence of counsel for plaintiff, and as a result made up its assessment in a manner summarized by the District Court (230 Fed. Rep. 193) as follows:
"The details of the assessment, showing the manner in which the board arrived at $45,658,630 as the value of the franchise, are these: The board first found the fair cash value of plaintiff's capital stock, hereafter termed its unit, to be $262,252,566. This valuation it arrived at by capitalizing at 6 per cent. what it took to be plaintiff's net income from operations on its own account for the year ending June 30, 1912, as of which date the assessment speaks, less what it took to be its net income from certain property which it took to be nontaxable. Plaintiff's reports to the Kentucky Railroad Commission and to the Interstate Commerce Commission as of that date state plaintiff's net income for that year to have been $18,052,905.12. This included the net income from the operation by plaintiff of three railroads, two in and one out of Kentucky, on account of the owners, which amounted to $1,439,604. The board deducted this sum from the total, leaving a balance of $16,613,301.12 of net income from operations on its own account. It then deducted from this balance the sum of $878,147 on account of its net income from such nontaxable property. This left a balance of $15,735,154, which capitalized at 6 per cent. gave the sum of $262,252,566, at which it valued the unit. The nontaxable property, the income from which was thus deducted, consisted of stocks in other corporations which owned property in this state and which had. paid the taxes thereon. The deduction was based on
Opinion of the Court.
sections 4085 and 4086, Kentucky Statutes, and the construction thereof by the Court of Appeals in the cases of Com. v. Walsh's Trustee, 133 Kentucky, 103, 117 S. W. Rep. 398, and Com. v. Fidelity Trust Co., 147 Kentucky, 77, 143 S. W. Rep. 1037. It then apportioned $92,181,766 of this sum to Kentucky. The sum so apportioned was 35.15 per cent. thereof. The percentage which it took was the percentage which the mileage operated by plaintiff in Kentucky on its own account was of the entire mileage so operated by it. The entire mileage so operated by it was 4,478.61, of which 1,574.41 was in Kentucky. It then added to the sum so apportioned $2,468,612, the excess in the value which it took that the portion of the unit in Kentucky was over such mileage proportion of the value thereof. It found this excess in value to be in the intangible part of the portion of the unit in Kentucky, and that in this way: The value of the tangible part it took to be $177,038,113, and that of the intangible $85,214,453. The proportion of the gross income derived from Kentucky of the entire gross income it took to be 38 per cent., or 2.85 per cent. in excess of such mileage proportion. It took it that this showed that the value of the portion of the intangible part of the unit in Kentucky was 2.85 per cent. of the value of such part, or the sum of $2,468,612, in excess of such mileage proportion thereof. Adding this sum to such mileage proportion of the value of the unit, to wit, $92,181,766, made the value of the portion of the unit in Kentucky $94,650,388. It then reduced this sum to that of $94,500,000 as the value. This reduction is not to be accounted for, except on the ground that it wanted to place the value of such portion in round numbers. This lessened the addition to such mileage proportion of the value of the unit on account of the excess in value of the portion of the intangible part of the unit in Kentucky over such mileage proportion thereof from the sum of $2,468,612 to $2,318,244, which latter sum was the dif
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ference between $94,500,000 and $92,181,766. But the board had no sooner made this reduction than it made a further reduction from this sum in round numbers to another sum, not in round numbers, to wit $75,139,402, as the value of the portion of the unit in Kentucky, and there it stayed. On the assumption that this sum was reached by reducing from $94,500,000, there is no accounting for how it reached it, rather than any other sum. The only account of it which it gave was that it so did 'to be conservative, and out of an abundance of caution, to the end that no injustice may be done respondent in arriving at the value of the corporate franchise of respondent in this state.' And it noted the fact that this-sum was 'less than 80 per cent. of that which it believes to be the fair cash value of Kentucky's proportion of the entire capital stock of respondent.' It then deducted from this last sum the assessed value of the tangible property in Kentucky, to wit, $29,500,772, which left the sum of $45,658,630 as the value of the franchise. Such is what the board did on the face of things."
Plaintiff being an interstate carrier whose lines of railroad extend both within and without the limits of the State, it comes within § 4081, Ky. Stats., which requires that "the said board will fix the value of the capital stock as hereinbefore provided, and that proportion of the value of the capital stock which the length of the lines operated, owned, leased, or controlled in this State, bears to the total length of the lines owned, leased or controlled in this State and elsewhere, shall be considered in fixing the value of the corporate franchise of such corporation liable for taxation in this State." The only previous provision to satisfy the reference "will fix the value of the capital stock as hereinbefore provided," is the provision of § 4079 that the Board shall fix it "from said statement, and from such other evidence as it may have."
Under this system it is obvious that there are three
Opinion of the Court.
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principal steps in the process of ascertaining the value of the intangible property, taxable in Kentucky, of companies operating lines of railroad extending within and beyond the limits of the State. These are: (1) The fixing of the value of "the capital stock of the corporation"; which, as construed in previous cases, means the total value of all its net assets, tangible and intangible, within and without the State; (2) the apportionment to Kentucky; and (3) the elimination of the value of the tangible assets. Whether the second step shall precede the third, or vice versa, is one of the matters in dispute.
No specific method being prescribed by the statute for fixing the value of the "capital stock" of the entire system, except a requirement to the effect that the Board shall have before it, with other evidence, a statement by the corporation setting forth the kind of business engaged in, the amount of capital stock, the number of shares, the par and real value thereof, with the highest price at which it has sold recently, the amount of surplus and undivided profits, the value of all assets, the total amount of indebtedness, the gross and net earnings or income, the amount and kind of tangible property within the State, and its location and fair cash value, it follows that the particular method to be pursued in ascertaining from this and other evidence the aggregate capital value is left to the sound judgment and discretion of the Board. In such cases there are (at least) two recognized methods, known as the stock-and-bond plan and the capitalization-of-income plan. In the present case the latter was followed.
(7) The application of this method by the Board is attacked in two respects, first, in the manner of deducting non-taxable assets, and, second, in the rate of percentage used in capitalizing the income. As to the first point, the insistence is that as the tax under consideration is merely an intangible-property tax, it results that if
Opinion of the Court.
among the assets of the corporation going to make up its total capital value there were some that were non-taxable, it was necessary to deduct these before arriving at the taxable capital. It is pointed out that under § 4085, Ky. Stats., the property of all corporations is to be assessed in the name of the corporation, and "so long as said corporation pays the tax on all its property of every kind, the individual stockholders shall not be required to list their shares in said corporation;" the argument being that, to the extent that plaintiff held the stock of other corporations having property in Kentucky and paying taxes thereon in that State, this stock in plaintiff's hands was non-taxable, and its value should have been deducted from the total value of its capital stock previously ascertained; citing Commonwealth v. Fidelity Trust Co., 147 Kentucky, 77, 84. As the record shows, the Board of Valuation and Assessment recognized plaintiff's right to deduction upon this account, and for this reason, in applying the capitalization-of-income method, deducted from $16,613,301.12, net income from operated roads, the sum of $878,147, the net income from non-taxable securities as reported by plaintiff to the Auditor and the Railroad Commission, taking the balance only, or $15,735,154, as the income to be capitalized in order to arrive at the value of the entire system. The criticism is that adopting this method had the effect of deducting only such stock in other corporations as paid dividends, whereas plaintiff insists that much of its stock thus held, although paying no dividends, or dividends at a low rate, had large intrinsic value by reason of the control it gave over other lines of railroad and the increment it brought to the aggregate income of the company. There was evidence that these non-taxable securities amounted to upwards of $30,000,000 in value, whereas the capitalization at 6 per cent. of their income of $878,147 produced a value of only $14,469,113. In our opinion, it is a sufficient answer to this contention
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