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Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Richmond, 249 U.S. 252 (1919)

Postal Telegraph-Cable Company v. Richmond

No. 169

Argued January 22, 1919

Decided March 17, 1919

249 U.S. 252


The City of Richmond is authorized by its charter and the statutes of Virginia to impose an occupation or license tax on the business of a telegraph company done within the city. P. 249 U. S. 257.

Under its police power, a state may impose a license tax upon a telegraph company, which has accepted the Act of Congress of July 24, 1866, and is doing both an interstate and a local business, provided the tax is restricted in terms to the local business and does not in effect burden or discriminate against the interstate business. Id.

Where a state requires a telegraph company to engage in intrastate business, and taxes that business more than the amount of the net receipts therefrom, so that payment, if compelled, must come in part from receipts from interstate business, semble, that the tax must

Page 249 U. S. 253

be declared invalid, but only if the incidence on interstate commerce is shown by clear and convincing evidence. P. 249 U. S. 258.

A telegraph company, although it has accepted the Act of 1866, and is engaged in interstate commerce, may be charged by a city a reasonable amount upon each pole maintained and used in the city streets, both as compensation for such use, in the nature of rental, and to cover the expense entailed on the city by the presence of the poles and wires and the liabilities and duties arising therefrom. Id.

Such a tax, if reasonable in amount, is not necessarily objectionable because it exceeds the net returns from local business and must be paid from interstate earnings. P. 249 U. S. 259.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 249 U. S. 256

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