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Colonial Pipeline Co. v. Traigle, 421 U.S. 100 (1975)

Colonial Pipeline Co. v. Traigle

No. 73-1595

Argued January 13, 1975

Decided April 28, 1975

421 U.S. 100


Louisiana's fairly apportioned and nondiscriminatory corporation franchise tax upon the "incident" of the "qualification to carry on or do business in this state or the actual doing of business within this state in a corporate form" does not violate the Commerce Clause as applied to appellant, an interstate carrier of liquefied petroleum products incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia, which does no intrastate business in petroleum products in Louisiana, but has employees there to inspect and maintain its pipeline, pumping stations, and related facilities in that State. "[T]he decisive issue turns on the operating incidence of the tax," General Motors Corp. v. Washington, 377 U. S. 436, 377 U. S. 441, and "[t]he simple but controlling question is whether the state has given anything for which it can ask return," Wisconsin v. J. C. Penney Co., 311 U. S. 435, 311 U. S. 444. Because appellant, as a foreign corporation qualified to carry on, and carrying on, its business in Louisiana in corporate form, gained benefits and protections from that State of value and importance to its business, it can be required through the franchise tax to pay its just share. Memphis Gas Co. v. Stone, 335 U. S. 80. Pp. 421 U. S. 108-114. 289 So.2d 93, affirmed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, MARSHALL, and POWELL, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 421 U. S. 114. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 116. DOUGLAS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 421 U. S. 101

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