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U.S. Supreme Court

Empresa Siderurgica, S.A. v. County of Merced, 337 U.S. 154 (1949)

Empresa Siderurgica, S.A. v. County of Merced

No. 327

Argued February 9, 1949

Decided May 31, 1949

337 U.S. 154


A cement plant in California was sold to a foreign purchaser for export. An export license was obtained, and a letter of credit in favor of the seller deposited here. Title passed and possession was taken for the purchaser. A common carrier was employed to dismantle the plant and prepare it for shipment. As the dismantling proceeded, shipments were labeled with the purchaser's name as consignee and delivered to a rail carrier. When 12% had been shipped, 10% had been prepared for shipment, 34% had been dismantled but not prepared for shipment, and 44% had not been dismantled, a municipality, acting under a California statute, levied a personal property tax on the portion which had not actually been shipped.

Held: This was not a tax on an export contrary to Art. I, § 10, Cl. 2 of the Constitution. Pp. 337 U. S. 155-157.

(a) The process of exportation begins upon entrance of the articles into the export stream. P. 337 U. S. 157.

(b) It is not enough that, on the tax date, there was a purpose and plan to export the property; nor that, in due course, the plan was fully executed. P. 337 U. S. 157.

(c) The fact that the dismantler was a licensed carrier for interstate and foreign commerce and that its employment included the loading of the property on railroad cars for shipment to the seaboard does not here require a different result. P. 337 U. S. 157.

32 Cal.2d 68, 194 P.2d 527, affirmed.

In a suit for refund of a municipal personal property tax paid under protest, a state court granted judgment for the plaintiff. The State Supreme Court reversed. 32 Cal.2d 68, 194 P.2d 527. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 337 U. S. 157.

Page 337 U. S. 155

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