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EDWIN BELL COOPERAGE COMPANY v. PITTSBURGH ET AL. (03/24/55)

March 24, 1955

EDWIN BELL COOPERAGE COMPANY
v.
PITTSBURGH ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Appeals, Nos. 131, 132, 133, 163, 164 and 165, April T., 1954, from orders of County Court of Allegheny County, 1952, Nos. A-1453, A-1454 and A-1499, and 1951, Nos. A-1094, A-1095 and A-1079, in case of Edwin Bell Cooperage Company v. City of Pittsburgh, School District of Pittsburgh, and James P. Kirk, Treasurer. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

Oscar G. Peterson, Assistant Solicitor, with him Mortimer B. Lesher, Solicitor and Niles Anderson, Assistant Solicitor, for school district et al., appellants.

J. Frank McKenna, City Solicitor and Robert Engel, Assistant City Solicitor, for City of Pittsburgh et al., appellants.

Harry F. Stambaugh, with him J. Randall Thomas, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Hirt

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 568]

OPINION BY HIRT, J.,

The City of Pittsburgh is one of a class of political subdivisions empowered by the Act of June 25, 1947, P.L. 1145 to tax "persons, transactions, occupations, privileges, subjects and personal property" not subject to a State tax. It was on the authority of this Act that the city enacted its mercantile tax ordinances with which we are concerned. The 1947 Act did not except either manufacturers or the products of manufacture. But the Amendatory Act of May 9, 1949, P.L. 898, 53 PS § 2015.1 provided that the taxing authority should not have power "to levy, assess and collect a tax on goods and articles manufactured in such political subdivision... or on any privilege, act or transaction

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 569]

    related to the business of manufacturing..." The Act of June 20, 1947, P.L. 745, as amended, 24 PS § 582.1 et seq., required that every school district of the first class issue mercantile licenses and levy and collect an annual mercantile license tax in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The plaintiff, Edwin Bell Cooperage Company, operates two plants in the City of Pittsburgh, employing about 100 men. In these plants it produces annually more than two million "slack" barrels, half barrels or kegs, of various sizes which it sells principally to steel or other metal fabricating companies in wholesale lots. The wooden staves and headings, which go into these products are manufactured elsewhere either by a subsidiary company owned by the plaintiff or by independent producers. The steel heads, hoops, rivets, wire bilge hoops, nails and the like which go into the finished product are obtained by the company from various sources.

For each of the years 1948, 1949 and 1950, with which we are concerned, mercantile licenses were issued to the plaintiff by the city and by the school district, as applied for, and in each year the Bell Company made returns to the municipalities of the total sales made by it which it considered taxable. The returns however did not include sales of its cooperage products. In each year the city and the school district assessed the plaintiff for additional mercantile taxes based upon the total sales of its kegs and barrels. The deficiency assessments were made on the theory that plaintiff's business was an assembling operation merely, not "related to the business of manufacturing" and therefore not within the ...


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