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CITY PITTSBURGH v. ALLEGHENY VALLEY BANK PITTSBURGH (03/20/80)

decided: March 20, 1980.

CITY OF PITTSBURGH, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND JOSEPH L. COSETTI, TREASURER, APPELLANTS,
v.
ALLEGHENY VALLEY BANK OF PITTSBURGH, COMMERCIAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, IRON AND GLASS BANK, KEYSTONE BANK, NORTH SIDE DEPOSIT BANK, STATE BANKING ASSOCIATIONS, MELLON BANK, N. A., PITTSBURGH NATIONAL BANK, THE UNION NATIONAL BANK OF PITTSBURGH AND EQUIBANK, N. A., NATIONAL BANKING ASSOCIATIONS



No. 213 March Term, 1978 Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 270 C.D. 1977, Affirming the Final Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division, at Nos. 2899 and 2898 October Term, 1973; and at Nos. 293, 294, 295 C.D. 1977, Reversing the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr., City Sol., Grace S. Harris, Executive Asst. City Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Everett K. Dilworth, William H. Dickey, Jr., Tucker, Arensberg, Very & Ferguson, Pittsburgh, for Pittsburgh Nat. Bank.

William B. Mallin, Ray C. Stoner, Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott, Pittsburgh, for Allegheny Valley Bank of Pittsburgh, Commercial Bank & Trust Co., and Iron and Glass Bank.

Abraham Fishkin, Pittsburgh, for Keystone Bank.

James F. Malone, III, Brandt, Milnes, Rea & Malone, Pittsburgh, for North Side Deposit Bank.

Carl E. Glock, Jr., J. Sherman McLaughlin, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, for Mellon Bank, N. A.

Robert H. Stevenson, Anderson, Moreland & Bush, Pittsburgh, for Equibank, N. A.

George L. Cass, Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rodewald, Kyle & Buerger, Pittsburgh, for Union Nat. Bank of Pittsburgh.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Flaherty, J., joins this opinion and files a concurring opinion, joined by Larsen, J. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion, joined by Eagen, C. J.

Author: Roberts

[ 488 Pa. Page 547]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Since 1969, the City of Pittsburgh has imposed a Business Privilege Tax on local business revenues.*fn1 On August 30, 1973 the City brought assumpsit actions in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas against five state banks and four national banks for failure to pay this tax.*fn2 The City

[ 488 Pa. Page 548]

    alleged that the state banks were subject to the Business Privilege Tax for the years 1969 to 1973, resulting in unpaid tax liability of at least $300,000, and that the national banks were subject to the Business Privilege Tax for the years 1970 to 1973, resulting in unpaid tax liability of at least $4,000,000.*fn3 The banks admit not paying the tax, but claim that the tax is invalid as applied to them.

The actions were consolidated and tried without a jury. The trial court held that the Bank Shares Tax Act and the Local Tax Enabling Act exempted appellee banks from this tax.*fn4 The court decided, however, that certain "nontraditional" banking activities were subject to the Business Privilege

[ 488 Pa. Page 549]

Tax.*fn5 The Commonwealth Court reversed the trial court's holding as to the taxability of "nontraditional" banking activities, but in all other respects affirmed the court's decision. This Court granted allowance of appeal. We affirm.

I.

The question presented is whether appellant City of Pittsburgh may validly impose its Business Privilege Tax upon the business of appellee banks. The Local Tax Enabling Act, if read alone, may possibly sustain appellant's tax, for it grants municipalities "the power to levy, assess and collect taxes upon any and all subjects of taxation which the Commonwealth has power to tax but which it does not tax or license." However, the Legislature's enactment of comprehensive banking legislation compels our consideration of whether local taxation upon the business of banks has been preempted.

When laws, such as the banking legislation,

"are silent as to whether municipalities are or are not permitted . . . to impinge in any manner upon the field entered by the state . . . [,] the question whether municipal action is permissible must be determined by an analysis of the provisions of the . . . [relevant legislation] in order to ascertain the probable intention of the legislature in that regard."

Western Pennsylvania Restaurant Ass'n v. Pittsburgh, 366 Pa. 374, 380-81, 77 A.2d 616, 619-20 (1951) (Opinion by Justice, later Chief Justice, Horace Stern); see Harris-Walsh, Inc. v. Dickson City Borough, 420 Pa. 259, 216 A.2d 329 (1966); Department of Licenses v. Weber, 394 Pa. 466, 147 A.2d 326 (1959). Review of the Commonwealth's banking laws discloses the Legislature's intention to exclusively reserve ...


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