RESPONDENT: Arny Rhoden, Chairman, Tax Commission of Mississippi
LOCATION: Tax Comission of Mississippi
DOCKET NO.: 73-1734
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Mississippi
CITATION: 421 US 200 (1975)
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1975
DECIDED: May 12, 1975
GRANTED: Nov 18, 1974
Charles R. Davis - for petitioner
Hunter M. Gholson - for respondent
Facts of the case
Gurley Oil Co. owned five gas stations in Mississippi and purchased gas tax-free out of state. Gurley added both federal and state excise taxes on to the retail price of the gasoline. Mississippi imposed an additional 5% tax on the “gross proceeds” of all gas sales. Mississippi did not permit Gurley to deduct the state and federal excise taxes from the “gross proceeds” before calculating the 5% tax. Gurley paid the tax under protest, but sued for a refund. They alleged that not allowing a pretax deduction of the excise taxes was an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment. Gurley argued that the company was just a collector of taxes paid by the consumer, so those taxes were not actually part of his gross receipts. The chancery court dismissed the suit and the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed.
Is Mississippi’s tax on the “gross proceeds”, including the amount collected to pay federal and state excise taxes, an unconstitutional taking?
Media for Gurley v. RhodenAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1975 in Gurley v. Rhoden
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 12, 1975 in Gurley v. Rhoden
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 73-1734, Gurley against Rhoden will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.
William J. Brennan, Jr.:
This case is here from the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
The Mississippi 5% sales tax is applied to the pump price of gasoline.
That pump price is increased 13 cents represent federal and state excise taxes passed on by the retailer to the motorist.
The Mississippi Supreme Court held that this does not render the sales tax an unconstitutional tax upon a tax.
We agree and affirm.
Mr. Justice Douglas took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.