PENNSYLVANIA V. NEW JERSEY, 426 U. S. 660 (1976)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania v. New Jersey, 426 U.S. 660 (1976)

Pennsylvania v. New Jersey

No. 68, Orig.

Argued December 3, 1975

Decided June 17, 1976*

426 U.S. 660


Under the New Jersey Transportation Benefits Tax Act, New Jersey does not tax its residents' domestic income, but does tax nonresidents' New Jersey-derived income and imposes an equivalent tax on residents' income earned outside the State except that such income is exempted to the extent it is taxed by the State in which it is earned. The New Hampshire Commuters Tax was held unconstitutional in Austin v. New Hampshire, 420 U. S. 656, in violation of the Privilege and Immunities Clause because it fell exclusively on nonresidents' income and was not offset by other taxes imposed on residents alone. Pennsylvania, suing on behalf of itself and as parens patriae on behalf of its citizens, moved to file an original bill of complaint against New Jersey, contending that the New Jersey tax Act violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause as interpreted in Austin, supra, and also the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and an accounting for taxes diverted from its treasury by the New Jersey tax. Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont on behalf of themselves, moved, in reliance on Austin, supra, to file an original bill of complaint against New Hampshire seeking an accounting for the taxes diverted from their respective treasuries by the New Hampshire Commuters Income Tax. Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont all extend a tax credit to their residents for income taxes paid to other States.


1. The motions for leave to file bills of complaint based on claims brought by the plaintiff States on their own behalf are denied. In neither suit has the defendant State directly injured the plaintiff States by imposing the taxes in question, but the injuries to the plaintiffs' fiscs were self-inflicted, resulting from decisions by their respective state legislatures to allow their residents credit for taxes paid to other States. Moreover, the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection Clauses protect people, not States.

Page 426 U. S. 661

2. Pennsylvania's motion for leave to file suit as parens patriae on behalf of its citizens is also denied, since such a suit represents nothing more than a collectivity of private suits against New Jersey for taxes withheld from private parties, and no sovereign or quasi-sovereign interests of Pennsylvania are implicated.

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