MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
The facts here are simple and undisputed. Petitioner is a commissioned officer of the United States Air Force. He was assigned to duty at Lowry Field, near Denver, Colorado, in 1948 and, throughout that year, resided in
The 1944 Amendment thereto, which is crucial here, first concerned personal property taxes. It stated:
It also interpolated "personal" in the second line of § 514 (1). 58 Stat. 722.
Respondent's argument that the statute in this form cannot affect Colorado's attempt to tax petitioner is two-fold —either it does not apply or is unconstitutional.
The constitutionality of federal legislation exempting servicemen from the substantial burdens of seriate taxation by the states in which they may be required to be present by virtue of their service, cannot be doubted. Generally similar relief has often been accorded other types of federal operations or functions. And we have
Nor do we see any distinction between those cases and this. Surely, respondent may not rely on the fact that petitioner here is not a business contractor. He is not the less engaged in a function of the Federal Government merely because his relationship is not entirely economic. We have, in fact, generally recognized the especial burdens of required service with the armed forces in discussing the compensating benefits Congress provides. Le Maistre v. Leffers, 333 U.S. 1; Boone v. Lightner, 319 U.S. 561. Cf. Board of Commissioners v. Seber, 318 U.S. 705. Petitioner's duties are directly related to an activity which the Constitution delegated to the National Government, that "to declare War," U. S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 11, and "to raise and support Armies." Ibid., cl. 12. Since this is so, congressional exercise of a "necessary and proper" supplementary power such as this statute must be upheld. Pittman v. Home Owners' Corp., 308 U.S. 21, 32-33; Federal Land Bank v. Bismarck Co., 314 U.S. 95, 102-104. Carson v. Roane-Anderson Co., supra, at 234. What has been said in no way affects the reserved powers of the states to tax. For this statute merely states that the taxable domicile of servicemen shall not be changed by military assignments. This we think is within the federal power.
We turn, then, to the interpretation of the statute within the factual confines of this particular case. Respondent's theory here also has no merit. It is based on the statements of the legislative history that, for instance, the provision was "designed to prevent multiple State
For similar reasons, we reject the argument that the word "deemed" as used implies a rebuttable presumption so as to permit taxation by the state of temporary presence in some cases. Such a construction would nullify
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurs, dissenting.
The power to tax is basic to the sovereignty of the states. Railroad Co. v. Peniston, 18 Wall. 5. There are few express restrictions of that power contained in the Constitution. See Art. I, § 10; Richfield Oil Corp. v. State Board, 329 U.S. 69; Canton R. Co. v. Rogan, 340 U.S. 511. And the implied restrictions are not numerous. A privilege secured by the Constitution, such as the right to free speech or the right to intercourse among the states, may not be taxed by a state. Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105. A state may not tax that part of an interstate operation which has no relation to the opportunities or benefits which it confers. Standard Oil Co. v. Peck, 342 U.S. 382. Nor may it discriminate in its tax scheme against interstate commerce or place an undue burden on it. Adams Mfg. Co. v. Storen, 304 U.S. 307; Gwin, White & Prince, Inc. v. Henneford, 305 U.S. 434; Nippert v. Richmond, 327 U.S. 416.
Closer in point are those instances where the state tax is levied on a federal instrumentality or on the means with which that instrumentality performs its functions. This exception is also represented by a rather narrow group of cases. See Pittman v. Home Owners' Corp., 308 U.S. 21; Federal Land Bank v. Bismarck Co., 314 U.S. 95; Maricopa County v. Valley Bank, 318 U.S. 357; United States v. Allegheny County, 322 U.S. 174. Cf. Board of Commissioners v. Seber, 318 U.S. 705. Some of those immunities were made explicit by an act of Congress. Some were implied. But the implied immunity,
The federal property used by the soldier, his activities as a federal employee, every phase of the functions he performs for the Army are immune from state taxation because his work is the work of the National Government. But the wages that he makes, as Graves v. New York, supra, held, can be taxed on a nondiscriminating basis by the states. So can his real and personal property. For in his private capacity a federal employee is no different from any other citizen. He receives protection and benefits from the society which the states create and maintain. Their police, their courts, their parks, their sanitary districts, their schools are all part of the civilization
The Court does not profess to go so far. It merely says that this case turns on changing military assignments and the burden placed on service men and women as a result of that feature of their work. But we also know that service men and women receive salaries much lower than those earned in civilian life. Can Congress remove those salaries from the reach of state taxing officials because they are burdensome to our military personnel? Certainly the burden, the harassment, the unpleasantness of those taxes would be as easy to establish as the burden of the present tax. And the relation of the burden to the federal service would be as close and intimate in one case as in the other.
The private affairs of our military personnel—the disposition of their salary, the furniture they purchase, the apartments they rent, the personal contracts that they make—by the very definition are not in the federal public domain. When Congress undertakes to protect them from state taxation or regulation, it is not acting to protect either a federal instrumentality or any function which a federal agency performs. Congress, therefore, acts without constitutional authority.
In sum, the power to tax is basic to the sovereignty of the states. The creation of islands of tax immunity should therefore be sparingly made. The tax immunity here recognized is not contained in the Constitution. It cannot be fairly implied because Denver's tax does not burden the performance of any federal function.