Amdt14.S1. Motor Vehicle Taxes

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In demanding compensation for the use of highways, a state may exempt certain types of vehicles, according to the purpose for which they are used, from a mileage tax on carriers.1 A state maintenance tax act, which taxes vehicle property carriers for hire at greater rates than it taxes similar vehicles carrying property not for hire, is reasonable, because the use of roads by one hauling not for hire generally is limited to transportation of his own property as an incident to his occupation and is substantially less extensive than that of one engaged in business as a common carrier.2 A property tax on motor vehicles used in operating a stage line that makes constant and unusual use of the highways may be measured by gross receipts and be assessed at a higher rate than are taxes on property not so employed.3 Common motor carriers of freight operating over regular routes between fixed termini may be taxed at higher rates than other carriers, common and private.4 A fee for the privilege of transporting motor vehicles on their own wheels over the highways of the state for purpose of sale does not violate the Equal Protection Clause as applied to cars moving in caravans.5 The exemption from a tax for a permit to bring cars into the state in caravans of cars moved for sale between zones in the state is not an unconstitutional discrimination where it appears that the traffic subject to the tax places a much more serious burden on the highways than that which is exempt from the tax.6 Also sustained as valid have been exemptions of vehicles weighing less than 3,000 pounds from graduated registration fees imposed on carriers for hire, notwithstanding that the exempt vehicles, when loaded, may outweigh those taxed;7 and exemptions from vehicle registration and license fees levied on private carriers operating a motor vehicle in the business of transporting persons or property for hire, the exemptions including one for vehicles hauling people and farm products exclusively between points not having railroad facilities and not passing through or beyond municipalities having railroad facilities.8

Continental Baking Co. v. Woodring, 286 U.S. 352 (1932). back
Dixie Ohio Express Co. v. State Revenue Comm’n, 306 U.S. 72, 78 (1939). back
Alward v. Johnson, 282 U.S. 509 (1931). back
Bekins Van Lines v. Riley, 280 U.S. 80 (1929). back
Morf v. Bingaman, 298 U.S. 407 (1936). back
Clark v. Paul Gray, Inc., 306 U.S. 583 (1939). back
Carley & Hamilton v. Snook, 281 U.S. 66 (1930). back
Aero Mayflower Transit Co. v. Georgia Pub. Serv. Comm’n, 295 U.S. 285 (1935). back