A-5586, OCTOBER 25, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 412

A-5586: Oct 25, 1924

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TAX - STATE - AUTOMOBILE LICENSE PLATES THE REQUIREMENT OF A STATE THAT A FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATED WITHIN THE STATE SHALL HAVE A LICENSE TAG FOR WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE REQUIRED TO PAY A FEE AMOUNTS TO A TAX ON AN INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE UNITED STATES. REIMBURSEMENT FOR AN AMOUNT PAID TO A STATE FOR MATERIAL USED IN MANUFACTURING AND COST OF ISSUING A LICENSE PLATE FOR A GOVERNMENT TRUCK IS UNAUTHORIZED. 1924: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20. SUBMITTING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED. THE GENERAL PROPOSITION THAT A STATE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO TAX THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES IS SUPPORTED BY NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THE COURTS AND OF THIS OFFICE.

A-5586, OCTOBER 25, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 412

TAX - STATE - AUTOMOBILE LICENSE PLATES THE REQUIREMENT OF A STATE THAT A FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATED WITHIN THE STATE SHALL HAVE A LICENSE TAG FOR WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE REQUIRED TO PAY A FEE AMOUNTS TO A TAX ON AN INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR AN AMOUNT PAID TO A STATE FOR MATERIAL USED IN MANUFACTURING AND COST OF ISSUING A LICENSE PLATE FOR A GOVERNMENT TRUCK IS UNAUTHORIZED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO E. PROTIN, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, OCTOBER 25, 1924:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20, 1924, SUBMITTING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED, A VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF J. B. MILLER, KEEPER MOBILE LIGHTHOUSE DEPOT, MOBILE, ALA., IN THE SUM OF 50 CENTS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF AMOUNT PAID BY HIM TO THE STATE OF ALABAMA FOR MATERIAL USED IN MANUFACTURE AND COST OF ISSUING A LICENSE PLATE FOR A NASH TRUCK, THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE.

THE GENERAL PROPOSITION THAT A STATE HAS NO AUTHORITY TO TAX THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES IS SUPPORTED BY NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THE COURTS AND OF THIS OFFICE. SEE MCCULLOUGH V. MARYLAND, 4 WHEAT. 316; JOHNSON V. MARYLAND, 254 U.S. 51; 9 COMP. DEC. 181; 15 ID. 231; 23 ID. 386; 3 COMP. GEN. 663.

IT IS CONTENDED THAT THE SUM OF 50 CENTS COVERS COST OF LABOR AND MATERIAL IN THE MANUFACTURE AND ISSUANCE OF THE LICENSE PLATE AND THAT NO PART OF SAID AMOUNT IS TO COVER THE LICENSE FEE. HOWEVER, ANY REQUIREMENT OF A STATE THAT A FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATED WITHIN THE STATE SHALL HAVE A LICENSE TAG AMOUNTS TO A TAX ON AN INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE UNITED STATES. SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 150.

THE QUESTION PRESENTED IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, AND THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH.