CARSTAIRS V. COCHRAN, 193 U. S. 10 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Carstairs v. Cochran, 193 U.S. 10 (1904)

Carstairs v. Cochran

No. 122

Argued January 13-14, 1904

Decided February 23, 1904

193 U.S. 10




That a statute does not conflict with the constitution of a state is settled by the decision of its highest court.

A state may tax private property having a situs within its territorial limits, and may require the party in possession of the property to pay the taxes thereon.

Distilled spirits in bonded warehouses may be taxed and the warehouseman

Page 193 U. S. 11

required to pay the tax notwithstanding the federal statute under which they are stored permits them to remain in bond for several years and there is no provision in the state law for the recovery of interest on the taxes paid thereunder, and negotiable receipts have been issued for the goods.

By c. 704 of the Laws of Maryland, 1892, as amended by c. 320, Laws 1900, the general assembly of that state provided for the assessment and collection of taxes on liquors in bonded warehouses within the state. The proprietors of such warehouses were required to pay the taxes, and given a lien on the property therefor. This legislation was sustained by the Court of Appeals of the state, 95 Md. 488, to review whose judgment this writ of error was sued out.

Page 193 U. S. 16

MR. JUSTICE BREWER delivered the opinion of the Court.

That the statutes in question do not conflict with the Constitution of Maryland is settled by the decision of its highest court. Merchants' Bank v. Pennsylvania, 167 U. S. 461, and cases cited; Backus v. Fort Street Union Depot Co., 169 U. S. 557, 169 U. S. 566; Rasmussen v. Idaho, 181 U. S. 198, 181 U. S. 200.

A state has the undoubted power to tax private property having a situs within its territorial limits, and may require the party in possession of the property to pay the taxes thereon.

"Unless restrained by provisions of the federal Constitution, the power of the state as to the mode, form, and extent of taxation is unlimited where the subjects to which it applies are within her jurisdiction."

@ 82 U. S. 319.

"Statutes sometimes provide that tangible personal property shall be assessed wherever in the state it may be, either to the owner himself or to the agent or other person having it in charge, and there is no doubt of the right to do this, whether the owner is resident in the state or not."

1 Cooley on Taxation, 3d ed., p. 653. See also Coe v. Errol, 116 U. S. 517; Marye v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 127 U. S. 117, 127 U. S. 123; Pullman's Car Co. v. Pennsylvania, 141 U. S. 18; Ficklen v. Shelby County, 145 U. S. 1, 145 U. S. 22; Savings Society v. Multnomah County, 169 U. S. 421, 169 U. S. 427; New Orleans v. Stempel, 175 U. S. 309; Board of Assessors v. Comptoir National, 191 U. S. 388; National Bank v. Commonwealth, 9 Wall. 353; Merchants' Bank v. Pennsylvania, 167 U. S. 461.

That, under federal legislation distilled spirits may be left in a warehouse for several years, that there is no specific provision in the statutes in question giving to the proprietor who pays the taxes a right to recover interest thereon, and that, for spirits so in bond, negotiable warehouse receipts have been issued

Page 193 U. S. 17

do not affect the question of the power of the state. The state is under no obligations to make its legislation conformable to the contracts which the proprietors of bonded warehouses may make with those who store spirits therein, but it is their business, if they wish further protection than the lien given by the statute, to make their contracts accordingly.

We see no error in the judgment of the court of appeals, and it is


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