Surplus Trading Company v. Cook

(Redirected from 281 U.S. 647)

Surplus Trading Co. v. Cook, 281 U.S. 647 (1930)
by the Supreme Court of the United States

United States Supreme Court

281 U.S. 647

Surplus Trading Company  v.  Cook, Sheriff.

Error to the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

No. 2.  Argued: Nov. 21, 1928. --- Decided: June 2, 1930.

Court Documents
Under Art. I, § 8, cl. 17, of the Constitution, land purchased by the United States for an Army station, with the consent of the legislature of the State in which it lies, comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and private personal property there situate can not be taxed by the State. P. 649. 174 Ark. 507, reversed.

[p648] Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Arkansas sustaining a tax on personal property located on a federal military reservation.

Mr. Charles D. Cherry argued the cause, and Messrs. G. B. Rose, D. H. Cantrell, J. F. Loughborough, A. W. Dobyns, and A. F. House were on the brief, for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Sam T. Poe, with whom Messrs. H. W. Applegate, Attorney General of Arkansas, and Tom Poe were on the brief, for defendant in error.

The land in question was not acquired by the United States in the manner contemplated by § 8, Art. I, cl. 17 of the Constitution. Ft. Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 525. Therefore jurisdiction of the United States over the reservation depends upon provisions of the cession Act of Arkansas. Paliner v. Barrett, 162 U.S. 399. That Act impliedly reserved the right to tax privately owned personal property on the military reservation.

The land was not actually purchased by the United States, but was donated by public-spirited citizens of Arkansas. "Purchase," as used in the Constitution, means only acquisition by actual purchase. Ft. Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 525.

Although the agreed statement of facts speaks of the acquisition as by "purchase," this must be construed in the light of the legislation of Congress, which shows no money was appropriated or paid. Stipulation as to an alleged fact will not be construed so as to allow one to escape taxation when the legislation of Congress shows the fact did not exist. Utah & N. Ry. Co. v. Fisher, 116 U.S. 28.

Tax exemptions are never lightly to be inferred. Feiner v. Colonial Trust Co., 275 U.S. 232. A State [p649] may tax personal property situated on a government reservation within its limits and not belonging to the United States or otherwise exempt. Thomas v. Gay, 169 U.S. 264; Wagoner v. Evans, 170 U.S. 588; Foster v. Pryor, 189 U.S. 325; Montana Catholic Missions v. Missoula County, 200 U.S. 118; Cassels v. Wilder, 23 Haw. 61; Rice v. Hammonds, 19 Okla. 419; County of Cherry v. Thacher, 32 Neb. 350; Nikis v. Commonwealth, 144 Va. 618; Cosier v. McMillan, 22 Mont. 484; Noble v. Amoretti, 11 Wyo. 230; Oscar Daniels Co. v. Sault Ste. Marie, 208 Mich. 363; Ex parte Gaines, 56 Ark. 227.

Mr. Justice Van Devanter delivered the opinion of the Court.

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).