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THOMAS A. LEONARD ET AL. v. RICHARD L. THORNBURGH (07/19/83)

decided: July 19, 1983.

THOMAS A. LEONARD ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
RICHARD L. THORNBURGH, GOVERNOR ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in the case of Thomas A. Leonard and Kathleen Leonard and Graveley Roofing Corporation v. Richard L. Thornburgh, Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and James L. Scheiner, Secretary of Revenue, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and William J. Green, Mayor, City of Philadelphia, and Joseph W. Brown, Director of Finance, City of Philadelphia, and Eugene L. Cliett, Jr., Revenue Commissioner, City of Philadelphia.

COUNSEL

Thomas A. Leonard, for petitioners.

Jill A. Douthett, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, with her John M. Myers, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, Pamela L. Perry, Chief Assistant City Solicitor, and Janet S. Holcombe, Assistant City Solicitor.

William S. Rawls, Executive Deputy Attorney General, with him Maura A. Johnston, Robert Coyne and Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Memorandum Opinion and Order by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 554]

Thomas A. Leonard and Kathleen, his wife, and Graveley Roofing Corporation have petitioned this Court in its original equity jurisdiction to have the Non-Resident Cap of the Tax Reform Code of 1971*fn1

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 555]

    declared unconstitutional and to enjoin the City of Philadelphia from enforcing recent amendments to both its Wage and Net Profits Tax and its Mercantile License Tax.*fn2 Before us is the petitioners' application for a preliminary injunction.

The application is denied and the Graveley's part of this action is transferred to the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court.

Powers, Duties and Responsibilities of a Chancellor

Traditionally, equitable principles have been applied judicially where the customary and technical forms of redress have proven inadequate and unresponsive to the resolution of social conflicts. The court of chancery, which traces its roots to English antiquity and beyond, evolved in natural consequence to the inherent limitations and inflexibility of the common law courts. The quest for natural justice nurtured a system of equitable jurisprudence which, guided by the dictates of conscience, settled controversies left unresolved by positive law.

Although a chancellor's powers are controlled by law in this Commonwealth, see Pennsylvania Anthracite Mining Co. v. Anthracite Miners of Pennsylvania, 318 Pa. 401, 178 A. 291 (1935), he still possesses the broad and flexible ability to grant remedial relief

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 556]

    where justice and good conscience so require. This is a sacred responsibility which must be exercised with both due diligence and the full consideration of the rights of all, and with an acute awareness of the harm that may result from the improvident granting of a specific requested relief.

History of Case

On June 2, 1983, Philadelphia City Council enacted two tax ordinances. Ordinance No. 1716, which had an effective date of July 1, 1983, amended the City's Wage and Net Profits Tax by increasing the tax rate from 4 5/16% for all taxpayers to 4 96/100% for Philadelphia residents only. The rate for all non-resident taxpayers remained at 4 5/16%. The City's Mercantile License Tax (Ordinance No. 1742, also effective on July 1, 1983) was amended by eliminating the exclusion on certain Philadelphia-based business transactions consummated outside the City boundaries. This ...


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