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CRAWFORD v. SOUTHERN FULTON SCHOOL DISTRICT (10/03/68)

decided: October 3, 1968.

CRAWFORD, APPELLANT,
v.
SOUTHERN FULTON SCHOOL DISTRICT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Fulton County, Jan. T., 1967, No. 1, in case of Stanley Crawford v. Southern Fulton School District.

COUNSEL

John B. Schaner, for appellant.

John McD. Sharpe, Jr., for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.

Author: Jones

[ 431 Pa. Page 325]

Stanley Crawford (appellant), a farmer by occupation, lives within the boundaries of Southern Fulton School District (District) in Fulton County. The District, a fourth-class school district, levied for 1965-1966 an occupation tax on appellant and all other farmers within the boundaries of the school district. The District claims to derive its authority for the tax from the so-called "Tax Anything Act" (Act of June 25, 1947, P. L. 1145, § 1, as amended, 53 P.S. § 6851: "A. The duly constituted authorities of . . . school districts of the fourth class may, in their discretion, by ordinance or resolution, for general revenue purposes, levy, assess and collect or provide for the levying, assessment and collection of such taxes as they shall determine to be paid . . . on persons, transactions, occupations, privileges, subjects and personal property with the limits of such political subdivisions . . . . (emphasis added)." This general grant of power is followed by several exceptions. Appellant maintains that the fourth exception exempts farmers from occupation taxes: "Except that such local authorities shall not have authority by virtue of this act . . . (4) to

[ 431 Pa. Page 326]

    levy, assess and collect a tax on goods and articles manufactured in such political subdivision or on the by-products of manufacture, or on minerals, timber, natural resources and farm products produced in such political subdivision or on the preparation or processing thereof for use or market, or on any privilege, act or transaction related to the business of manufacturing, the production, preparation or processing of minerals, timber and natural resources, of farm products, by manufacturers, by producers and by farmers with respect to the goods, articles and products of their own manufacture, production or growth, or on any privilege, act or transaction relating to the business of processing by-products of manufacture, or on the transportation, loading, unloading or dumping or storage of such goods, articles, products or by-products." (Emphasis added).

The "Tax Anything Act" was repealed as of January 1, 1966. The portions quoted above, however, were included in "The Local Tax Enabling Act" (Act of December 31, 1965, P. L. 1257, § 2, 53 P.S. § 6902). In addition, the legislature included the following provision at the end of the fourth exception: ". . . except that local authorities may levy, assess and collect taxes on the occupation, occupational privilege, per capita and earned income or net profits of natural persons engaged in the above activities . . . ." There is no question that appellant would be subject to an occupation tax under the new act.

Both parties have argued that this additional provision is a guide to the correct interpretation of the fourth exception to the "Tax Anything Act." Appellant claims that, since the new act added a provision to permit occupation taxes, such taxes were not legal under the old act. The District counters that the additional language was added to clarify the misinterpretation

[ 431 Pa. Page 327]

    placed upon the old act by courts which held that occupation and income taxes were not permitted under the fourth exception. Either interpretation is logical and could be correct. Since we do not know the legislative intent in adding the new language, it would be hazardous at best to try to interpret the fourth exception from language added 18 years later.

Four common pleas courts have considered the question whether the "Tax Anything Act" permits the local taxing authority to levy an occupation tax on farmers. The first three decisions to come down held in favor of the farmer: Miller v. York Imperial School Dist., 23 Pa. D. & C. 2d 406 (York C.P. 1960); Brandt v. Conewago Twp. School Dist., 34 Pa. D. & C. 2d 146 (Dauphin C.P. 1964); Yoder v. Union Twp. School Dist., 37 Pa. D. & C. 2d 315 (Mifflin C.P. 1965). The fourth court, from which the present appeal is taken, decided in favor of the school ...


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