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Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee

Law Dictionary
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Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Corporations Keyed to Hamilton

Citation. Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee, 288 U.S. 517, 53 S. Ct. 481, 77 L. Ed. 929, 1933 U.S. LEXIS 51, 85 A.L.R. 699 (U.S. Mar. 13, 1933)

Brief Fact Summary. Thirteen chain storeowners, (Appellants), filed a class action seeking an order enjoining tax officials, (Appellees), from enforcing Chapter 15624 of the Laws of Florida, 1931 (Ex. Sess.). Defendant successfully moved to dismiss and the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed. Plaintiffs appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Chain stores employ distinguishable methods of conducting business and the Legislature may make the difference in method and character of the business the basis of classification for taxation.


Facts. This statute requires businesses operating in Florida to obtain a license. The filing fees for the license are heavier for chain stores as opposed to stores owned independently but operating in voluntary cooperation with each other. The tax is increased if one or more store in the chain is located in a different county. A further tax of $3 is required for each $1,000 value of stock carried in each retail store. Filling stations engaged exclusively in the sale of petroleum products are excluded.

Issue.
Whether a tax distinguishing between chain stores and voluntary chains is an arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination.

Whether those provisions of the act that increase the tax if the owner’s stores are located in more than one county are unreasonable and arbitrary.

Whether the requirement deprives Appellants of equal protection of the law because wholesale merchants not taxed by the act in question are assessed under section 926 of the Revised General Statutes of Florida.

Whether tax of $3 for each $1,000 value of stock carried in each retail store deprives Appellants of equal protection of the law because merchants are not taxed similarly.

Whether excluding filling stations engaged exclusively in the sale of petroleum products deprives Appellants of equal protection of the law.

Whether the act by bearing unevenly upon those who purchase directly from a wholesale manufacturer whose plant is outside the state burdens interstate commerce.

Whether the tax is unconstitutionally discriminatory because state officials do not intend to collect it from the owners of stores in certain lines of business and therefore Appellants should be exempt from paying the tax.

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