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CARPENTER V. SHAW, 280 U. S. 363 (1930)

U.S. Supreme Court

Carpenter v. Shaw, 280 U.S. 363 (1930)

Carpenter v. Shaw

No. 50

Argued December 5, 1929

Decided January 6, 1930

280 U.S. 363


1. Tax exemptions secured to the Indians by agreement between them and the national government are to be liberally construed in favor of the Indians. P. 280 U. S. 366.

2. The provision in the "Atoka Agreement" with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes, ratified August 24, 1898, that "all lands allotted shall be nontaxable while the title remains in the original allottees but not to exceed twenty-one years from the date of patent," is to be construed in the sense in which it would be naturally

Page 280 U. S. 364

understood by the Indians, and its meaning at the time of its adoption may not be narrowed by any subsequently declared intention of Congress. P. 280 U. S. 37.

3. Section 9814, Comp.Stat. Okla., 1921, imposes a tax upon the owner of any royalty interest in petroleum and natural gas to the extent of 3% of the gross value of the royalty; it makes this tax a lien on such royalty interest and declares that it shall be in lieu of all other taxes "upon any property rights attached to or inherent in the right" to the specified minerals and "upon the mining rights and privileges for the minerals aforesaid belonging to or appertaining to the land." The tax was applied to Indians who had received allotments under the Atoka Agreement and had leased them for the production of oil and gas reserving a royalty of one-eighth of the value of the gross production. Held that the tax is not a tax on oil and gas severed from the realty, but is a tax upon the right reserved in the Indians as lessors and owners of the fee, and is forbidden by the tax exemption of the Agreement. P. 280 U. S. 367.

4. Where a federal right is concerned, this Court is not bound by the characterization given to a state tax by state courts or legislatures, or relieved by it of the duty of considering the real nature of the tax and its effect upon the federal right asserted. Id.

5. A denial by a state court of a recovery of taxes exacted by a state officer in violation of the laws or Constitution of the United States by compulsion is itself in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment, and cannot be justified by a state statute limiting suits to recover illegally assessed taxes to taxes paid "at .the time and in the manner provided by law." P. 280 U. S. 369.

134 Okla. 35 reversed.

Certiorari, 279 U.S. 830, to review a judgment of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma which affirmed a judgment dismissing a suit brought by Indians against the State Auditor to recover money exacted of them as taxes and paid under protest.

Page 280 U. S. 365

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