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U.S. Supreme Court

Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Phillips, 332 U.S. 168 (1947)

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co. v. Phillips

No. 385

Argued April 9, 1947

Decided June 23, 1947

332 U.S. 168


1. A charter granted by the Georgia to a railroad company in 1833 provided that

"The stock of the said company and its branches shall be exempt from taxation for and during the term of seven years from and after the completion of the said rail roads or any one of them, and after that, shall be subject to a tax not exceeding one half percent. per annum on the net proceeds of their investments."

In 1937 the State imposed a tax of 5 1/2 percent on the net income of all domestic and foreign corporations, and in 1941 assessed deficiencies for such taxes against a lessee of the railroad.

Held, following a decision of the highest court of the State, that the 1833 exemption did not apply to taxes on "income" imposed by a statute in 1937, and therefore the tax did not impair the obligation of the railroad's charter contrary to Art. I, § 10, of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 332 U. S. 169-174.

2. Earlier decisions of this Court construing the same tax exemption provision, in cases involving property taxes and not a conventional income tax, are not controlling here. Pp. 332 U. S. 173-174.

200 Ga. 856, 38 S.E.2d 774, affirmed.

The railroad company appealed to the state courts from a tax assessment under a state statute challenged as violative of the contract clause of the Federal Constitution. The trial court gave judgment for the railroad. The State Supreme Court reversed. 200 Ga. 856, 38 S.E.2d 774. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 332 U. S. 174.

Page 332 U. S. 169

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