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COMMONWEALTH v. EQUITABLE GAS COMPANY (07/01/64)

July 1, 1964

COMMONWEALTH
v.
EQUITABLE GAS COMPANY, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH V. UNITED GAS IMPROVEMENT COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 7 and 8, May T., 1964, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Nos. 517 and 582, Commonwealth Docket, 1960, in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Equitable Gas Company; and Same v. The United Gas Improvement Company. Judgments reversed.

COUNSEL

Ronald M. Katzman, for appellant.

Albert J. Tomalis, with him Charles W. Hull, and Hull, Leiby and Metzger, for appellant.

John J. Gain, Assistant Attorney General, with him Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Howell C. Mette, Frank A. Sinon, and Rhoads, Sinon & Reader, for amici curiae.

Before Bell, C.j., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 415 Pa. Page 114]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

We are called upon in these two appeals to decide whether appellant-public utility companies are subject, under the Selective Sales and Use Tax Act,*fn1 to tax on their purchases and use of gas and electric meters placed on customers' premises. The Department of Revenue, by assessment in one case and by denial of refund in the other, concluded that use of the meters is taxable under the Act.*fn2 The Board of Finance and Revenue, by unanimous order, reversed the determinations of the Department of Revenue. On appeal, the Commonwealth Court held that appellants' use of meters on customers' premises was subject to the use tax provisions of the Act.*fn3 These appeals followed.

Both appellants are Pennsylvania public utilities engaged in the production, distribution and sale of natural gas to Pennsylvania customers, and one (UGI) also produces, distributes and sells electricity. Both taxpayers operate under the provisions of the Pennsylvania

[ 415 Pa. Page 115]

Public Utility Law,*fn4 subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission and in accordance with tariffs filed with the Commission.

"In connection with these activities they install what are known as 'meters' or 'customers' meters,' either inside the home of the consumer or on the outside and physically attached thereto, and for the purposes of this case the gas and electric meters may be treated as identical. These are the meters with which ...


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