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NEW JERSEY TEL. CO. V. TAX BOARD, 280 U. S. 338 (1930)

U.S. Supreme Court

New Jersey Tel. Co. v. Tax Board, 280 U.S. 338 (1930)

New Jersey Bell Telephone Company v.

State Board of Taxes & Assessments

No. 254

Argued November 25, 1929

Decided January 6, 1930

280 U.S. 338


1. Whatever the terms used by the state legislature to impose a tax or by the state court in reference to it, the law cannot be sustained if it operates to burden or regulate interstate business. P. 280 U. S. 346.

2. A New Jersey telephone company, all of whose line and other property were within that state but part of whose business was in interstate and foreign commerce, was not only taxed ad valorem on its real and personal property, but was also subjected to a "franchise tax" of 5% of that part of the gross receipts from all of its business during the year, which bore the same proportion to the whole as the length of it line in the public streets bore to the length of it whole line.

Held that this exaction was not a charge or rental for use of public property; nor was it a property tax on the company's right to use the streets or on the value of its power of eminent domain and possession of going concern and of a regulated monopoly; that it was neither a tax on property nor in lieu of a property tax, but was a direct tax on gross receipts derived from interstate and foreign commerce and, as to that part, at least, was void under the commerce clause. Pp. 280 U. S. 347-349.

105 N.J.L. 641 reversed.

Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey which affirmed a judgment of the supreme court of the state, 105 N.J.L. 94, sustaining on certiorari a tax assessment against the appellant.

Page 280 U. S. 343

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