Page images

authorities, too often neglect the fellow who pays the freight. In other words, we exclude from our consideration of tax questions the man who pays the taxes, and that I think is a very great mistake. I think the greatest problems that we have in Michigan are in connection with road building, the cost of the building and maintenance of our public highways, and the tax-exemption feature. In Michigan we have quite a problem to raise the funds with which to build and maintain roads. We have resorted to bond issues to the extent of something like twenty or twenty-five million dollars, and we have authorized about twenty-five million dollars more to be issued now. The interest charges on this indebtedness is enormous, and the taxpayers of course have to pay it. Several proposals have been made by various people as to how to raise this money without resorting to bond issues. One of the things proposed is a tax on gasoline, ranging from one cent a gallon to six cents a gallon.

In regard to these proposals, the automobile manufacturers and the automobile drivers object to such a tax. The farmer, of course, wants it, and quite a few of the professional people. We find the same things in other proposals that have been made to our commission. No matter what new source of revenue is proposed, you will find that various property interests will object, so that we have a continual clash between the various property interests in the State of Michigan, as well as in the other states, as to what shall be done to raise the needed revenue for the support of state and local governments.

One of the great problems we have also in Michigan is the question of tax exemption. You would be interested to know that during the last eight years there has been invested in MichiganMichigan money-over two hundred and fifty million dollars in foreign securities alone. That is an enormous sum of money. That does not take into consideration the amount that has been invested in Michigan securities. These are securities issued by foreign countries, by other states and by municipalities located in states other than Michigan. So that two hundred and fifty million dollars of Michigan money has gone into foreign countries, into other states and into other municipalities, to build up industries there and support the governments of those states. That is one of the great problems; how to overcome that. We propose as a commission to repeal the statutory provision that we have in our law providing for exemption of that class of securities, particularly the foreign securities, and provide for a reasonable annual contribution to the support of government by the owners of this class of property or securities. I think we are all agreed that tax exemption has become a real menace to the industrial development of all It does not apply only to Michigan, but every state feels that the time has come to call a halt.


Just one word more in regard to public expenditures. I often tell our people in Michigan that the surest way to keep their taxes down or to lessen the amount of taxes is to stop spending so much money. I think that can be done if the people themselves will wake up to the seriousness of the situation as it exists all over this land of ours. I think that if the people will take steps to elect to public office more efficient men, we should soon see a lessening of the cost of government. It is quite the fashion nowadays for public officials to hunt for new sources of revenue, so that they will have a grab-bag into which to put their hands for the spending of money. That I think is one of the important things, and that can only be done by a campaign of education, and, Mr. Chairman, I am going to suggest while I am on my feet, two things that I think this association might do with a great deal of profit to the people of the United States. One is that a publicity committee be appointed at this conference, for the purpose of getting information relative to the tax situation all over the country, in every state, into the public press. I don't think it is quite sufficient to have it published only in the bulletin issued by the national tax association, because that bulletin goes only into the hands of the members of the association. That is not sufficient; it should go into the public press.

Another thing I would suggest would be, if possible, if you can get the funds to do so, to send a corps of lecturers, say one-half dozen fellows, to cover a number of the more important states at least, and give a series of lectures on the seriousness of the tax situation, especially in regard to public expenditures. I don't believe it would be any great difficulty to raise sufficient funds at least to send out one-half dozen fellows, who would be able to educate the people as to the seriousness of the situation, especially in regard to public expenditures. I think if that was done that we should soon see some improvement.

CHAIRMAN LESER: I would suggest to Mr. Lord that he renew his proposition before the resolutions committee.

There is another instance of intelligence shown by a state, to wit, the State of Utah, in asking Professor Bullock to assist them in reforming their tax system. There is a special commission at work also in the State of Pennsylvania. Is Senator Woodward from that state present?

(No response)

CHAIRMAN LESER: Apparently he has not arrived. That being so, we have now about fifteen minutes left in which to hear Mr. William Bailey make a ten-minute speech on the question of the taxation of migratory animals.

WILLIAM BAILEY of Utah: Ladies and gentlemen, I fully appreciate the fact that many of you will not be interested in this question, therefore if any of you want to go to sleep or leave the room, you have my consent, and I know you are tired. I shall not attempt to read this paper. I will give you a little short synopsis of what this committee which has been working for two years on this question has done. I would much prefer to follow up the subject introduced by Mr. Brindley, and tell you what we are doing in Utah. I hope that before the conference is over Professor Bullock will have the opportunity to tell you what he found in our state and what we are endeavoring to do. I am going to say, however, to watch us and we will show you the way.

This question of migratory live stock is confined entirely, I think, to the public land states, and it has been quite a problem with us for a long while. For instance, one-half of the state land is unsurveyed, and as to public lands, many of the western states are in that condition. We have the public forests, which are handled by the government. Animals, live stock, cattle and sheep, graze upon these forests and along the state lines and are in several states during the year, and the question of taxes upon this stock has become quite a problem with us.

"Transient live stock" is defined in different states as stock grazing in more than one county in the state and also in several states. We have various methods applied: For instance, in one of the states close to us they always charge a full year's tax for a person that goes into that state from another state, plus fifty cents a head for cattle and twenty-five cents a head for sheep, while other states will charge only for the time that they are in the state, and that at the regular rate upon other property within the state. In going into the matter, we have outlined court decisions upon this point. The courts are just as far off as we are ourselves, because you can get any kind of a decision you want.

We find that in some instances it is held that when cattle are brought into a state after the regular day of assessment, which is January first with us, they are not assessable, still another state holds that they are, and so it goes, until we find a lot of confusion.

There is the question of interstate cattle being driven or taken to the market, as to how they should be treated. We have a lot of court decisions affecting that; and this is the gist of the whole thing, my friends, that the courts have held that when cattle and sheep are brought into a state, and have been assessed, they ought not to be assessed again. For instance, here is an illustration; a bunch of sheep, which is often the case, start way off in Oregon and are driven to the Nebraska market, and it takes all summer for them to go. They made five hundred miles and it took them a little over two months to make the five hundred miles; what

proportion of the tax ought to be paid to the states through which they passed? That is the problem we have. There are a lot of other things connected with it; for instance, the question of grazing cattle and sheep in the same locality, a thing very dangerous in some of the states, and a question that has to be handled by the states themselves.

Your committee feels that the public lands belonging to the government should be free to all people, and that a man owning cattle, whether he grazes in one or three or a half-dozen states, ought to pay a tax but once, and that the states should co-operate, one with the other, to the end that if a bunch of sheep or cattle is brought into a state and kept there for three months, one-quarter of the year should be collected for that state, and so on through. There is the question of list, there is the question of numbering them, and all of these things, which you public land people understand as well as I do, and it is not necessary for me to go into that for you, so that is the recommendation, and. my friends, that completes my story. Thank you.



The difficulties involved in the taxation of migratory live stock are confined almost entirely to the western states, where there are still large areas of the public domain, used only for grazing purposes, and where there are national forests, for the most part in the mountainous regions, used for this purpose also, but under regulation of the department of the interior. Quite naturally. under these circumstances the owners of the live stock are more concerned with the nature of the grazing lands than with the boundary lines of the counties and the states. The forest reserves provide grazing during the summer months, but with the advent of winter, the live stock are taken from the mountainous regions of these reserves and are driven to the deserts, where they are able to subsist during the winter months. These winter ranges may extend into several counties and sometimes into two or more states. Thus the live stock are moved from place to place, where feed is most abundant, without respect to county or state boundaries. This all comes about in the natural course of the live stock business in the West, and at times, during a period of draught or excessive snowfall, the movement of live stock may be increased considerably, in order to cope with such unusual climatic conditions.

From the above it may readily be seen that the territory over which live stock may graze is not in any way controlled by the county or state boundaries, but is determined solely by the climatic conditions, the nature of the feed and the season of the year. All

of these factors, when brought together, develop into serious difficulties for the taxing officials. It is the purpose of this report to analyze the laws and court decisions now governing the taxation of this kind of property and to determine upon certain principles of justice and equality, which should be used as a basis for uniform legislation.

Our investigations show that a great lack of uniformity exists, not only in the statutes governing this situation in the various states but also in the legal decisions, as may be seen from the following illustrations.


For instance, Utah defines transient (or migratory) live stock as stock brought into the state by any person or persons, for the purpose of being grazed or fed for any length of time exceeding twenty days; and all stock which is driven or removed from one county to another or from that state to any other state, for the purpose of being grazed or fed, for any length of time exceeding twenty days. Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado define transient live stock similarly, with the exception of the length of time. In other words, these four states define transient live stock as intercounty and interstate. On the other hand, Montana, Idaho, Arizona and Oregon confine the definition to inter-county stock only; while Washington limits the term to the home county, New Mexico to interstate, and California gives no definition of the term at all. LISTING BY OWNER OF TRANSIENT HERDS WITH COUNTY OFFICIALS

Utah, Nevada, and Colorado require the listing by the owner of transient herds with county officials. Wyoming requires not only listing of interstate entrance, but after assessment in the original county, listing of removal, whether from county or state. Montana requires, in addition to the general information on listing, a statement showing the full time during the current year that the live stock has been or will be within any county or counties, other than the home county, and besides, a listing on entrance or removal from any other county. Idaho requires listing in the original county and in subsequent counties; Arizona requires also a statement of future movement of live stock. In Oregon and Washington, only listing is required, while in New Mexico not only is listing of entrance required, but also of subsequent movement.


On the certifications of assessment from county officials there is again no general uniformity. For instance, Utah and Nevada require a certificate of assessment from county officials, while none of the other public land states requires anything but a tax receipt,

« PreviousContinue »