MR. JUSTICE BREWER delivered the opinion of the court.
The right of the State to tax these shares of stock is not denied, but the contention of plaintiffs in error rests on the applicability of that part of section 5219, Revised Statutes, which reads "that the taxation shall not be at a greater rate than is assessed upon other moneyed capital in the hands of individual citizens of such State." The purpose of this legislation was thus stated in Mercantile Bank v. New York, 121 U.S. 138, 155:
"A tax upon the money of individuals, invested in the form of shares of stock in national banks, would diminish their value as an investment and drive the capital so invested from this employment, if at the same time similar investments and similar employments under the authority of state laws were exempt from an equal burden. The main purpose, therefore, of Congress in fixing limits to state taxation on investments in the shares of national banks, was to render it impossible for the State, in levying such a tax, to create and foster an unequal and unfriendly competition by favoring institutions or
The laws of New York in reference to taxation of the shares of stock in national banks are like those in respect to the taxation of shares of stock in state banks, and there are many of the latter in the State. So it is not suggested that the State makes any discrimination between state banks and national banks, but it is contended that the statutes of New York, in reference to the taxation of trust companies, are essentially different; that these trust companies are practically carrying on a banking business; that an enormous amount of moneyed capital is invested in them, and that as a result not merely a theoretical but a practical and burdensome discrimination is made against the moneyed capital invested in national banks. Commenting upon this, it was said by Mr. Justice Woodward, delivering the opinion of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the case at bar:
"It is conceded on the part of the relators that the stock of the First National Bank was assessed upon the same principle applied in the assessment of the stock of the state banks doing business in their immediate vicinity, and that this was done under the provisions of section 24 of the tax law of 1896. In order to pronounce this provision of the law invalid we must, therefore, convict the legislature not alone of hostility to the national banks, but of hostility toward its own creations; we must reach the conclusion that the State of New York is seeking, by an exercise of its taxing power, to advance one class of moneyed corporations at the expense of another, both of which have been created by the legislature and both of which are engaged, presumptively, in promoting the interests of the people. There are no presumptions in favor of this idea, and there is no evidence in the case to show that any of the state institutions have ever complained of an inequality in taxation."
Further, in Mercantile Bank v. New York, supra, decided in 1887, the New York statutes in reference to the taxation of shares of stock of national banks were challenged on the ground of discrimination in favor of moneyed capital otherwise invested,
Counsel for plaintiffs in error insist that that case is not controlling, and for several reasons: One, because two amendments have been made in the legislation of New York, which it is said give full banking powers to trust companies, save in respect to the power of issuing circulating notes. The first is found in chap. 696, Laws of 1893, which added an eleventh subdivision to section 156 of the banking law (chap. 689, Laws 1892), and which in terms authorizes trust companies: "11. To exercise the powers conferred on individual banks and bankers by section 55 of this act, subject to the restrictions contained in said section."
Section 55, referred to, provides:
"Every bank and individual banker doing business in this State may take, receive, reserve and charge on every loan or discount made, or upon any note, bill of exchange, or other evidence of debt, interest at the rate of six per cent per annum; and such interest may be taken in advance, reckoning the days for which the note, bill or evidence of debt has run." 2 Stats. 1892, 1869, c. 689.
This legislation simply places trust companies on an equality with banks, whether corporate or individual, in respect to the matter of interest, and does not give to trust companies power to loan, discount or purchase paper. Whatever powers trust companies had in respect to these matters were given by statutes which were in existence before the decision in Mercantile
The other change in the legislation referred to is found in section 163 of chapter 689 of the Laws of 1892, which provides that "every trust company incorporated by a special law shall possess the powers of trust companies incorporated under this chapter, and shall be subject to such provisions of this chapter as are not inconsistent with the special laws relating to such specially chartered company." But this gives no new powers to trust companies generally, but simply grants to such companies, incorporated under special laws, the powers of trust companies incorporated under the general statute, and subjects them to the same restrictions, unless inconsistent with their special charters. Clearly, there has been no change in the legislation of New York in respect to the powers of trust companies which calls for any limitation of the decision in Mercantile Bank v. New York.
Again, it is insisted that that case was submitted on an agreed statement of facts which neglected to disclose fully the manner in which trust companies carried on their business, and also that whatever might have been the facts at that time the testimony here presented shows that almost the entire volume of
Further, although there is in the record quite an amount of testimony as to the assets and business of trust companies in Brooklyn, yet the case was determined by the Supreme and Appellate Courts of New York upon findings of fact — which findings do not sustain the contention of plaintiffs in error in this respect — and it is well settled that the findings of fact in the state courts are on a writ of error conclusive with us. Hedrick v. Atchison, Topeka &c. Railroad, 167 U.S. 673, 677, and cases cited therein; Bement v. National Harrow Co., ante, 70. In other words, we apply the law to the facts settled in the state courts, and we do not search the record to see if there be not disclosed by the testimony some other matters not embraced in the findings which may affect the conclusion.
Still, again, even if we were to pass beyond the findings of fact and, searching the record, should be of the opinion that the testimony justified the contention of the plaintiffs in error that trust companies are mainly using their funds in the carrying on of a purely banking business — and this under an assumption of powers not in fact bestowed by the legislation of the State — what effect would such conclusion have upon the question before us? It is to be presumed that if trust or other companies are exercising powers not conferred by law the State will take the proper steps to keep them within their statutory limits, and a neglect for a limited time to do so cannot be considered as an assent by the State to such an improper assumption of power. It is not to be assumed that the State is acting in bad faith; that it has so legislated that upon the face of the statutes a uniform rate of taxation upon all moneyed capital is provided, while at the same time it has designedly placed the grants of some corporate franchises in such form as to permit the use of moneyed capital in certain ways with peculiar and less stringent rates of taxation. Certainly there is nothing in this case to
In reference to some other suggested differences between banks and trust companies in respect to the matter of taxation we make a further extract from the opinion of Mr. Justice Woodward, which in general we approve (p. 402):
"It may not, in view of the importance of this question, be out of place to suggest that the statute under which the trust companies are organized does not compel the capital to be invested in United States bonds; it may be invested in `bonds and mortgages on unincumbered real property in this State worth at least double the amount loaned thereon, or in the stocks or bonds of this State, or of the United States, or of any county or incorporated city of this State duly authorized by law to be issued.' The Banking Law, Laws of 1892, chap. 689, sec. 159. If the capital of the trust companies should be invested in bonds and mortgages or other securities not exempt from taxation, there would be no inequality in the premises; and as they are not allowed the privilege of issuing notes to be circulated as money upon the security of their United States bonds, which is the real justification for the taxation which is assessed upon the shareholders of the national banks, we fail to find in the record any evidence of such a discrimination against the national banks as would justify us in holding that the law under which the trust companies operate, and the
While we have not discussed all the questions raised by counsel in their elaborate brief and argument, we have sufficiently
MR. JUSTICE GRAY did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of this case.