ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day; Mr. Justice Brown did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
The contention is that inasmuch as this filled cheese was manufactured under contract for export, and was in fact exported, the tax of one cent per pound prescribed by section 9 was prohibited by the fifth paragraph of section 9, article I, of the Constitution, which reads: "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State."
But this means that no burden shall be placed on exportation, and does not require that any bounty be given therefor. Congress has power to encourage exportation by remitting taxes on goods manufactured at home as it has power to encourage manufactures by duties on imports, yet the Constitution does not compel it to do either the one or the other. This power of encouraging is illustrated by section 11 of this act, which requires all imported filled cheese to pay, in addition to import duties, an internal revenue tax of eight cents a pound -- eight times as much as that manufactured at home. To remit on articles exported the tax which is cast upon other like articles consumed at home, while perhaps not technically a bounty on exportation, has some of the elements thereof. By this act all filled cheese is subject to a manufacturing tax of one cent a pound. To remit that tax in favor of filled cheese exported may encourage the manufacturer to seek a foreign rather than
a home market, but if the full tax on all filled cheese manufactured is required for the support of the government the remission of part necessitates revenue from some other source. Doubtless the remission is given in hope of widening the market and increasing the production, but that is only a possibility of the future, while the loss in the revenue is a fact of the present. Subjecting filled cheese manufactured for the purpose of export to the same tax as all other filled cheese is casting no tax or duty on articles exported, but is only a tax or duty on the manufacturing of articles in order to prepare them for export. While that which is asked in this case is the return of a manufacturing tax there is nothing in the constitutional provision to distinguish between manufacturing and other taxes, and if the plaintiff's contention be sustained as to a manufacturing tax it would follow that the government was bound to refund all prior taxes imposed on articles exported. A farmer may raise cattle with the purpose of exportation, and in fact export them. Can it be that he is entitled to a return of all property taxes which have been cast upon those cattle? The true construction of the constitutional provision is that no burden by way of tax or duty can be cast upon the exportation of articles, and does not mean that articles exported are relieved from the prior ordinary burdens of taxation which rest upon all property similarly situated. The exemption attaches to the export and not to the article before its exportation. Such has been the ruling of this court. In Turpin v. Burgess, 117 U.S. 504, 506, where the question was as to an export stamp tax on tobacco, Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for the court, said:
"The constitutional prohibition against taxing exports is substantially the same when directed to the United States as when directed to a State. In the one case the words are, 'No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.' Art. I, sec. 9, par. 5. In the other they are, 'No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports.' Art. I, sec. 10, par. 2. The prohibition
in both cases has reference to the imposition of duties on goods by reason or because of their exportation or intended exportation, or whilst they are being exported. That would be laying a tax or duty on exports, or on articles exported, within the meaning of the Constitution. But a general tax, laid on all property alike, and not levied on goods in course of exportation, nor because of their intended exportation, is not within the constitutional prohibition."
See also Brown v. Houston, 114 U.S. 622; Coe v. Errol, 116 U.S. 517.
Justice Miller, in his lectures on the Constitution (p. 592) says:
"The Congress of the United States, during the late civil war, imposed a tax upon cotton and tobacco, which tax was not limited to those products when in the process of transportation, but was assessed on all the cotton and tobacco in the country. It was argued that because the larger part of these products was exported out of the country and sold to foreign nations, and because their production was limited to a particular part of the country, the tax was forbidden by the corresponding clause of the Constitution prohibiting Congress from levying a tax on exports. Although the question came at that time to the Supreme Court of the United States, it was not then decided, because of a division of opinion in that court. The recent cases, however, of Coe v. Errol, 116 U.S. 517, and Turpin v. Burgess, 117 U.S. 504, seem to decide that the objection was not valid, and hold that only such property as is in the actual process of exportation, and which has begun its voyage or its preparation for the voyage, can be said to be an export."
Some light is thrown on this question by the cases of Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1, and United States v. E. C. Knight Company, 156 U.S. 1. In the former a manufacturer of intoxicating liquors in Iowa claimed to be beyond the reach of the prohibitory law of the State on the ground ...