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Wilmette Park Dist. v. Campbell, 338 U.S. 411 (1949)

Wilmette Park District v. Campbell

No. 5

Argued November 15-16, 1949

Decided December 12, 1949

228 U.S. 411


Petitioner, an instrumentality of a State, operated on a nonprofit basis a public bathing beach to which all persons entering were charged admission. For failure to collect and pay the tax imposed by § 1700(a) of the Internal Revenue Code on charges for "admission to any place," penalties were assessed against petitioner under § 1718 of the Code.


1. Having paid the penalties from its general revenue fund, petitioner's financial interest was sufficient to give it standing to sue for refund. P. 338 U. S. 414.

2. Within the meaning of § 1700(a), the charge made by petitioner for admission to the beach was an "amount paid for admission to any place," and that section was applicable. Pp. 338 U. S. 414-419.

(a) Congress did not intend by § 1700(a) to tax only admissions to "spectator entertainments." P. 338 U. S. 415.

(b) The beach area here involved was a "place" within the meaning of § 1700(a)(1). Pp. 338 U. S. 415-416.

(c) Congress did not intend to exempt nonprofit operations from the admissions tax imposed by § 1700(a) of the Code, notwithstanding certain exemptions that had previously been allowed. P. 338 U. S. 416.

(d) That activities conducted by a municipality were not intended to be exempt from the admissions tax is indicated by a long continued administrative construction, expressly denying such exemption, which has been followed by repeated reenactment of the relevant language without change. Pp. 338 U. S. 416-418.

(e) The fact that petitioner's beach patrons make use of a beach and its facilities, and that its admission charge may by local law be considered a "use tax," does not render § 1700(a) inapplicable. Pp. 338 U. S. 418-419.

3. The application of the admissions tax in connection with this activity of the petitioner, though an instrumentality of a State, does not violate the Federal Constitution. Pp. 338 U. S. 419-420.

172 F.2d 885 affirmed.

Page 338 U. S. 412

In a suit for refund of penalties assessed for failure to collect federal admissions tax, the District Court entered judgment for petitioner. 76 F.Supp. 924. The Court of Appeals reversed. 172 F.2d 885. This Court granted certiorari. 37 U.S. 937. Affirmed, p. 338 U. S. 420.

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