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cannot be limited, they prescribe no limits to the exercise of this right, resting confidently on the interest of the leg. islator, and on the influence of the constituents over their representative, to guard them against its abuse.” It is “ unfit for the judicial department to inquire what degree of taxation is the legitimate use, and what degree may amount to the abuse, of the power.”1
It is undoubtedly true that the power of the legislature to determine the rate of taxation is limited only by its wise discretion, and may be extended so as to involve a complete confiscation of all the taxable property within the State, if the payment of such a tax could be enforced. There would be no redress in the courts for such an abuse of the power. It is also true that the selection of the objects of taxation is without limitation, except those imposed by the United States constitution, and arising out of the inter-relation of the Federal and State governments.?
The State may freely determine upon what occupations and manufactures to impose a license or excise tax, and may exempt others from the burden of taxation with or without laudable reasons; it may determine what is taxable property, and exempt from the levy any kind of property in the exercise of its discretion. The arbitrary character of the exemptions in any of these cases furnishes no ground for an appeal to the courts. But, usually, as a matter of course, there is a public reason, upon which the exemption may be justified. For the promotion of the public welfare, educational and religious institutions and their property are often exempted from taxation, and the right to make the exemption has been rarely questioned. For the purpose of lightening the burden of the poorer classes, and relieving the State of the danger of consequent pauperism, the State may very properly exempt from taxation the tools and other means of support of the wage-earner. But it has been held to be unconstitutional to make exemptions from taxation on account of sex or age, as for example, widows, maids and female minors. Such an act was declared to be void. Classes or kinds of property may be
1 McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 428, 430. See, also, Provi. dence Bk. v. Billings, 4 Pet. 514; Kirtland v. Hotchkiss, 100 U. S. 491; Portland Bk. v. Apthrop, 12 Mass. 252; Herrick v. Randolph, 13 Vt. 525; Armington v. Barnet, 15 Vt. 745; Thomas v. Leland, 24 Wend. 65; People v. Mayor, etc., of Brooklyn, 4 N. Y., 491; Kirby v. Shaw, 19 Pa. St. 258; Sharpless v. Mayor, etc., 21 Pa. St. 145; Weister o. Hade, 52 Pa. St. 474; Wingate v. Sluder, 6 Jones (N. C.), 552; West. Un. Tel. Co. v. Mayor, 28 Ohio St. 521; Board of Education v. Mclandsborough, 36 Ohio St. 227.
2 As to which, see post, $ 210.
3 Brewer Brick Co. v. Brewer, 62 Me. 62 (16 Am. Rep. 395; Durach's Appeal, 62 Pa. St. 491; Stratton v. Collins, 43 N. J. 563; New Orleans
” exempted, as well as classes of persons. But the legislature of the State must determine for itself what shall be objects of taxation. The county or municipal authorities cannot be permitted or authorized by the legislatures to make the exemptions. Statutory exemptions are always very strictly construed against the individual and in favor of the public;s and ordinarily a general exemption by the State from taxation does not extend to assessments by the municipal authorities for a local improvement.
0. Fourchy, 30 La. Ann. pt. 1, 910; New Orleans v. People's Bank, 32 La. Ann. 82; State v. North, 27 Mo. 464; People v. Colman, 3 Cal 46.
1 It is no violation of the constitutional principle of religious liberty to exempt the property of religious institutions from taxation. Trustees of Griswold College v. State, 46 Iowa, 275 (26 Am. Rep. 138).
2 State v. Indianapolis, 69 Ind. 375 (35 Am. Rep. 223).
3 Butler's Appeal, 73 Pa. St. 48; Sioux City v. School District, 55 Iowa, 150.
• Farnsworth Co. 0. Lisbon, 62 Me. 451 ; Wilson o. Mayor, etc., of New York, 4 E.D. Smith, 675; State v. Parker, 33 N. J. 213; State v. Hudson, etc., Commissioners, 37 N. J. 11; Hill v. Higdon, 5 Ohio St. 243; State v. County Court, 19 Ark. 360; Weeks v. Milwaukee, 10 Wis. 242; Wilson 0. Supervisors of Sutter, 47 Cal. 91.
5 Railway Co. o. Philadelphia, 101 U. S. 528; State o. Mills, 34 N. J. 177; Trustees of M. E. Church v. Ellis, 38 Ind. 3; Nashville, etc., R. R. Co. 0. Hodges, 7 Lea, 663. 6 Seamen's Friend Society o. Boston, 116 Mass. 181; Universalist Society o. Providence, 6 R. I. 235; Brewster o. Hough, 10 N. H. 138; Seymour v. Hartford, 21 Conn. 581; Matter of Mayor, etc., 11 Johos. 77; Patterson v. Society, etc., 24 N. J. 385; Pray v. Northern Liberties, 31 Pa. St. 69; Baltimore v. Cemetery Co., 7 Md. 517; Orange, etc., R. R. Co. v. Alexandria, 17 Gratt. 185; Lafayette v. Orphan Asylum, 4 La. Ann. 1; Broadway Baptist Church o. McAtee, 8 Bush, 508 (8 Am. Rep. 480); Cincinnati College v. State, 19 Ohio, 110; Palmer v. Stumph, 29 Ind. 329; Peoria v. Kidder, 26 III. 351; Lockwood v. St. Louis, 24 Mo. 20; Le Fever v. Detroit, 2 Mich. 586; Hale v. Kenosha, 29 Wis. 599.
In reference to these matters, as just explained, the power of taxation is practically without limitation, at any rate subject to very few limitations. But it would not do to say that every legislative act, which assumes the exercise of the power of taxation, will be constitutional. Levies can be made upon the property of the individual which will transcend the object of taxation, as well as violate its spirit. The levy ot a tax is only permissible, except under a tyrannical government, when it is made for a public purpose, and it is proportioned uniformly among the objects or subjects of taxation. When a tax is imposed for some private or individual benefit, or is not uniformly imposed upon those who ought to bear it, it is perfectly proper, nay, it is the duty of the courts to interfere and prohibit what may be justly called an extortion. But the term “public purpose must not be used in this connection in any narrow sense. Taxes are levied for a public purpose, not only when they are designed to pay the salaries of government officials, to erect and keep in repair government buildings; to maintain the public roads, barbors and rivers in a fit condition, and to provide for the defenses of the country. Taxes may not only be levied for such purposes, but also for all purposes of public charity. It is a public purpose to erect with State funds, obtained from taxes, penitentiaries, orphan and lunatic asylums, hospitals and lazarettos, public schools and colleges. It is a public purpose to provide pensions for the soldier and other employees of the government, when they have become disabled in service or superannuated.? And wherever there is a reasonable doubt as to the character of the purpose for which the tax was levied, the doubt should be solved in favor of the power of the legislature to lay the tax. But if the purpose be truly private ; if the tax in effect takes the property of one man and gives it to another, it is illegal and it is the duty of the courts to enjoin its collection. For example, it has been held unlawful to
1“ It is the clear right of every citizen to insist that no unlawful or unauthorized exaction shall be made upon him under the guise of taxition. If any such illegal encroachment is attempted, he can always invoke the aid of the judicial tribunals for his protection, and prevent his money or other property from being taken and appropriated for a par. pose and in a manner not authorized by the constitution and laws." Bigelow, Ch. J., in Freeland v. Hastings, 10 Allen, 570, 575. See, also, to the same effect, Hooper v. Emery, 14 Me. 375; Allen o. Jay, 60 Me. 124 (11 Am. Rep. 185); Talbot v. Hudson, 16 Gray, 417; Weismero. Douglass, 64 N. Y. 91 (21 Ain. Rep. 588); Tyson v. School Directors, 51 Pa. St. 9; Washington Avenue, 69 Pa. St. 352 (8 Am. Rep. 255); People v. Township Board of Salem, 20 Mich. 452; People v. Supervisors of Saginaw, 26 Mich. 22; Ferguson v. Landram, 5 Bush, 230; Morford 0. Unger, 8 Iowa, 82; Hansen v. Vernon, 27 Iowa, 28.
1 But it is only for the support of public charities that the government may tax the people. A levy of a tax for donation to some private benevolent or charitable institution is void. St. Mary's Industrial School v. Brown, 45 Md. 310.
2 Booth v. Woodbury, 32 Conn. 118; Speer v. School Directors of Blairville, 50 Pa. St. 150.
3 “To justify the court in arresting the proceedings and declaring the tax void, the absence of all public interest in the purposes for which the funds are raised must be clear and palpable; so clear and palpable as to be perceptible by every mind at the first blush.” Per Dixon, Ch. J., in Brodhead v. City of Milwaukee, 19 Wis. 624, 652. See Spring v. Russell, 7 Me. 273; Mills v. Charleton, 29 Wis. 411 (9 Am. Rep. 578.) 4 “The legislature has no constitutional right to
lay a tax, or to authorize any municipal corporation to do it, in order to raise funds for a mere private purpose. No such authority passed to the assembly by the general grant of the legislative power. This would not be legislation. Taxation is a mode of raising revenue for public purposes. When it is prostituted to objects in no way connected with the public interest or welfare, it ceases to be taxation and becomes plunder. Transferring money from the owners of it into the possession of those who have no title to it, though it be done under the name and form of a tax, is unconstitutional for all the reasons which forbid the legisla
levy taxes in aid of manufacturing and other private industrial enterprises, for the relief of farmers, whose crops have been destroyed, to supply them with seeds and provisions, or for making loans to persons whose homes have been destroyed by fire.3 It has also been held illegal to pay a subscription to a private corporation that is to he devoted to a private purpose. On the other hand, it has been repeatedly held that the legislature may authorize counties and municipal corporations to subscribe for capital stock in railroad companies in aid of their construction and may levy a tax in order to pay the subscription. Since the legislature is pro
ture to usurp any other power not granted to them.” Black, Ch. J., in Sharpless v. Mayor, etc., 21 Pa. St. 147, 168.
1 Loan Association ». Topeka, 20 Wall. 655; Opinions of Judges, 58 Me. 590; Allen v. Jay, 60 Me. 124 (11 Am. Rep. 185); Commercial Bank v. Iola, 2 Dill. 353.
2 State v. Osawkee, 14 Kan. 418. But the United States, as well as the State governments, have frequently come with the public funds to the rescue of the people of sections which have been inundated by foods, or devastated by disease or fire; and it would seem that the State aid under such circumstances differed little if at all from the ordinary bestowal of alms upon the poor, and is equally justifiable, as being a public charity.
8 Lowell v. Boston, 111 Mass. 454 (15 Am. Rep. 39).
5 Zabriskkie 0. Cleveland, C. &. R. R. Co., 23 How. 381; Bissell o. City of Jeffersonville, 54 How. 287; Amey v. Allegheny City, 24 How. 364; Curtis v. Butler Co., 24 How. 435; Mercer Co. v. Hacket, 1 Wall. 83; Gelpcke v. City of Dubuque, 1 Wall. 175; Seybert v. City of Pittsburg, 1 Wall. 272; Van Hortrup v. Madison City, 1 Wall. 291 ; Meyer 0. City of Muscatine, 1 Wall. 384; Havemeyer v. Iowa Co., 3 Wall. 294; Thomson 0. Lee Co., 3 Wall 327; Rogers v. Burlington, 3 Wall. 654; Mitchell o. Bur. lington, 4 Wall. 270; Campbell v. City of Kenosha, 5 Wall. 194; Riggs 0. Johnson, 6 Wall. 166; Lee Co. v. Rogers, 7 Wall. 181 ; City of Kenosha, 9 Wall. 477; Chicago, B. & Q. R. R. Co. v. County of Otoe, 16 Wall. 667; Gilman v Sheboygan, 2 Black, 510; Tipton Co. v. Rogers L. & M. Works, 103 U. S. 523. The cases from the State courts are too numerous to cite in detail. But see, to the same effect, Supervisors of Portage Co.o. Wis. Cent. R. R. Co., 121 Mass. 460; Augusta Bank v. Augusta, 49 Me.
છે. 507; Williams v. Duanesburg, 66 N. Y. 129; Brown v. County Comrs., 21