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problem of administering the migratory live stock tax, from the standpoint of the tax-gatherer, but also from the standpoint of the taxpayer. It should likewise consider the fact that the public domain should be used to best advantage by all concerned owners, and that to get such an advantage it is necessary to see that no unreasonable tax barriers be raised along the county or state boundaries. There should be no penalty placed upon any citizen of the United States who grazes his live stock in two or more states during a calendar year, but he should be given every opportunity and privilege that any other livestock owner may have on the public domain, in any of the states in which he grazes his live stock.
The grazing fee which has been imposed by some states upon the live stock owned by non-residents who bring their live stock into these states is unjust and uncalled for. The practice of granting a credit, proportionate to the time that the live stock are out of the state is fair and reasonable, provided that the states do not use the provision of the Utah law, to the effect that no credit in excess of fifty per cent of the tax shall be allowed for time spent outside the state, irrespective of the duration of that time. This provision is unfortunate, for it sometimes forces excessive taxation upon the owner of migratory live stock.
RECOMMENDATIONS In view of these findings your committee has attempted to determine upon certain methods of procedure, which should be incorporated in the migratory live stock tax law of each state affected by this problem. Your committee has decided to recommend general principles, rather than a definite act, because the constitutions and the statutes now in effect in these states contain such varying basic methods of assessment and collection of taxes that it was deemed unwise to attempt to formulate a statute which would fit into the legal code of all of the states thus affected. These recommendations are not intended to include all the requirements of a statute governing this problem, but merely to cover the important points at issue, and they are presented in terms as general as the requirements of the report will permit, in order that each state may have full freedom in adapting these ideas to its own code of laws.
Your committee, therefore, recommends that the statutes of each state, where this problem exists, be so amended as to contain the following:
1. Definition.—For the purpose of taxation, migratory live stock shall be deemed to be: All live stock brought into the state by any person or persons, for the purpose of being grazed or fed for any length of time; all live stock which is driven or removed from one county to another, or from one state to any other state, for the purpose of being grazed or fed for any length of time.
2. All persons responsible for the removal of migratory live stock from one county to another county or from one state to another state should be required to file a certificate with the county assessor of the county into which the live stock are brought, which certificate should state the date when the live stock were brought into the county, the number, the kind and brands of the live stock so removed, together with a statement as to where the live stock have been assessed, if at all.
3. In cases where live stock have been assessed in one state and taxes have been paid upon such assessment, and the live stock have later been removed to another state, the state wherein the live stock were originally assessed should provide for repayment of the taxes which were originally collected, in an amount which is proportionate to the length of time the live stock were out of the state where they were originally assessed.
4. In cases where live stock have been brought from one state to another state, without being assessed in the first state, the assessor of the county into which the live stock have been brought should enter the assessment of such live stock on the assessment rolls of his county and should issue a certificate of assessment to the owner of such live stock, which certificate should set forth the name and address of the owner, the number, kind and brands of the live stock. The statement should also show whether the owner has given bonds to secure payment of the taxes; whether he has paid taxes, or whether the collection of the taxes is secured by a lien upon real property.
5. In case the live stock so removed have already been assessed in the home state, they should be assessed, as stated above, in the county into which they have been removed, but the county treasurer of such county should be required to allow a credit against the taxes due, in an amount which is proportionate to the time that the live stock spent in the home state.
6. In case live stock are moved to another county within the state in which they were originally assessed, the owner of such live stock should present to the assessor of the county or counties into which the live stock are moved, the certificate of assessment which was issued to him by the assessor in the county where the live stock were originally assessed, together with a statement setting forth the length of time which it is contemplated that the live stock shall remain in the county. Upon receipt of such certificate the assessor should note the information contained therein, and should return the certificate to the owner of the live stock. At the close of the year the assessors in the counties through which the live stock ranged should make claim upon the county in which the live stock was originally assessed, for a portion of the taxes due such county or counties, based upon the time which said live stock spent in such county or counties.
Every state should enact a reciprocity clause, which should grant all rights and privileges, concerning the taxation of live stock, to non-resident owners, which are enjoyed by resident owners, provided the states of such non-resident owners grant the same rights and privileges.
In this report the terms transient live stock and migratory live stock” have been used interchangeably. In some states the former is the statutory wording, while in others the latter is used. The general definition, however, covers both terms, wherever used.
WILLIAM BAILEY, Chairman,
Chairman, State Board of Equalization of Utah
State Board of Equalization of Wyoming
State Board of Equalization of Montana
County Assessor, Chaves County, New Mexico
State Tax Commission of Arizona
State Board of Equalization of California
Nevada Tax Commission
Stock Growers Association of Colorado
Tax Agent, State of Idaho
University of Utah.
CHAIRMAN LESER: Gentlemen, we are greatly complimented, and all the older ones of us are greatly pleased to know that Mr. Haugen is back with us. When I thought of this brilliant idea Mr. Haugen was in the room, but we shall have a chance to hear from him. He is one of the old stand-bys, and when I was described this morning as the veteran, one of the veterans — perhaps I am in length of service-I recall that at a little meeting in Salt Lake City we both addressed the rotary club and I reminded them that Mr. Haugen was a good deal of a veteran. I thought I was a good deal of a youngster because he had at that time served twenty years in the business and I had only served nineteen years and eight months, but since that time he has had a little hiatus, although he has come back into the service, and this is what I think is worth reminding you of. We have had here the instances now of the State of Washington and the State of Utah and the State of Michigan availing themselves of expert advice in dealing with this question of tax reform, and we have also the instance of the State of Montana, showing sense enough, when they found that a man like Nils Haugen had left the service in his own state after twenty years—they had the sense to invite him to come to that state and become their tax adviser, and I think a man who is invited by another state to do that thing--and is doing that thing-is worth hearing, and I hope before the conference is over you will hear him.
I find, like Finnegan on again, off again, Finnegan ” – Mr. Haugen is with us again, and we want to hear a few words from him. This is the man who was imported into Montana from Wisconsin and who is doing the trick, and we want to hear a little about it, Mr. Haugen.
Nils P. HAUGEN of Wisconsin: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the conference: I don't know whether I am doing the trick or not. There are too many tricks in this game to be able to take them all. I was getting too old for Wisconsin, so I was dropped off the roll in Wisconsin and received an invitation to come out to Montana to assist the board of equalization of that state. I have been trying to be of some assistance. How effective that assistance may be, I cannot yet say, because I find that an elective board hesitates very much about meeting the issue as I think it ought to be met, and still I think that on the whole I may have been of some assistance to them. Mr. Walker, the state treasurer of Montana, is here, a member of this conference, and he is a member of the board of equalization. Montana like some of the other western states has a constitution that ties the hands of the legislature in such a manner that they cannot have probably a very effective system of taxation until they amend their constitution.
In the first place, when Montana was organized as a state, the mining interests along the main range of the Rockies had about all the population they had in the cities, and the population of Montana was largely in the mining districts. There is no question but that the constitution of Montana has tied up the legislature in such a way that until an amendment to the constituion is adopted, the mining properties cannot be assessed except the land itself, at the price the government received for the land. Then the constitution provides that there may be a net proceeds tax levied on the mineral product. They are doing that now and getting some revenue. They have gone quite extensively into the license fee system of taxation, because the constitution has tied them in other respects, so that certain classes of property can be reached in no other manner. The oil products tax, and coal products tax are examples: of a severance tax. There is a dealers' tax connected with it too.. but not if the severance tax has been paid on the oil.
Of course, that is a new industry in Montana, and it promises great developments in certain parts of the state. The thought I was trying to carry out with the board was that there has been no equalization between counties or between the general property of the state, socalled, and the railroad properties.
I don't approve of the way the railroad assessment is made, but that too is provided for in the constitution, the constitution providing that the state board of equalization shall find the value of railroads, and that the valuation shall be distributed down to the different counties, towns, townships and cities and school districts in proportion to miles of railway laid in each such municipal organization.
CAPTAIN W. P. WHITE: Main line?
MR. HAUGEN: It says miles of railway laid. I don't think the board has followed the letter of the constitution in that respect, and they have discriminated between the main line and the branches, which is hardly justifiable, it seems to me, under that language of the law; but that has been the custom, and it may be this year.
There is another difficulty in Montana-I might find some things to approve of there, but I am there partly for the purpose of criticizing-if I mistake any of those, Mr. Walker, I wish you would correct me—but school districts are organized in Montana for the purpose of reaching some large public utility. Counties are so organized. There is a county organized through which runs the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul roads Those two railroads pay ninety-two per cent of all the taxes levied in the county. The school districts are organized for the purpose of getting at the railroad property and some other property up in the northwestern corner of the state. In Lincoln county, 'I think it is, there is a school district with seven pupils. I think that is a district where they have built a teacherage, a dwelling for the teacher, and it has two teachers and a janitor at seventy-five dollars a month, and the Great Northern Railway Company pays nearly all the taxes.
The Montana Power company, one of the largest hydro-electric companies in the country, if not the largest, has necessarily had to build heavy structures, large dams along the river. They have four of them which I have visited and there little communities have built up school districts. That company pays all the taxes for the entire community. There is probably a little justification. It is not quite as bad as it looks, because they are down in a hole between the mountains. There is no settler within miles of them. and there is a little community, just enough men to run the plant of the company, but the company pays all the tax. The distribution of the tax ought to be, I think, on a different basis.