Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

State and Local Taxation

First Page



That the field of state and local taxation is bedoming much more important, as well as increasingly active, is shown by a number of recent significant major developments that are of interest and concern to taxpayers and their counsel everywhere. Ten state tax cases are already on the United States Supreme Court docket for consideration during the Term commencing October 5, 1959.' During the past term at least a half dozen important state tax cases were decided by the Supreme Court, including the epochal Northwestern-Stockham decision, which threw much of the legal profession, as well as many taxpayers, into a swivet. In that case the Supreme Court decided that a state can tax the net income of a foreign corporation which is earned within its borders although the income is earned exclusively in interstate commerce. The consternation resulting from this decision galvanized Congress into such action that it passed an act to circumscribe the power of the states to tax income derived solely from interstate - commerce. Moreover, with most states avidly searching for more revenue to satisfy the pyramiding demands for public services, new ways for raising taxes have been explored. The fiscal pattern varies from state to state and it keeps changing constantly, with the number of items and activities taxed increasing all the while. Skyrocketing state tax collections (not counting local government taxes) in fiscal 1959 rose by nearly $1 billion over 1958, reaching a new high of $15.8 billion, which was double the collections of only a decade ago. Local taxes usually total about the same amount as state taxes, which means that the tax take for states and their political subdivisions was over $31.5 billion in the last fiscal year. Reflecting the growing importance of the state and local tax field, the courts in Tennessee have considered a relatively large number and variety of tax cases during the period covered by this survey.