211 U.S. 477
FRANKLIN B. LORD and William B. Lord, Plffs. in Err.,
MARTIN H. GLYNN, Comptroller of the State of New York, Deft. in Err.
Argued December 9, 1908.
Decided January 4, 1909.
Mr. Lucius H. Beers for plaintiffs in error.
[211 U.S. 477, 479] Mr. D. Cady Herrick for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court:
The question presented in this case is the validity of a collateral inheritance tax on certain property bequeathed to plaintiffs in error by Emily M. Lord, deceased. The testatrix and her husband had lived for many years at Morristown, New Jersey. She died there January 18, 1892. At the time of her death she owned real estate situate in the state of New York, and certain personal property on deposit in a safe deposit company in the city of New York. The inheritance tax was claimed under chap. 713, of the Laws of the State of New York for 1887, entitled, 'An Act to Amend Chap. 483 of the Laws of 1885, Entitled, 'An Act to Tax Gifts, Legacies, and Collateral Inheritances in Certain Cases."
That act has twenty-six sections. It is sufficient, however, to refer to a part of 1 and 15:
It appears that the husband of the testatrix died in Morristown only ten days before his wife, but, as he owned no real estate situate in the state of New York, no inheritance tax was collected from his estate. In claiming the equal protection of the law under the 14th Amendment, counsel for plaintiffs in error, after pointing to the discrimination between the two cases, contend that--
We do not understand that the court of appeals of the state of New York has decided that the state has no power to collect an inheritance tax where the only property belong- [211 U.S. 477, 483] ing to the decedent situate within the state of New York is personalty, but simply that no provision has been made for reaching such a case.
Both parties refer to Re Embury, 19 App. Div. 214, 45 N. Y. Supp. 881, which was decided in June, 1897, by the first department, and affirmed by the court of appeals on the authority of the opinion of the appellate division (154 N. Y. 746, 49 N. E. 1096). In that case it appears from the opinion in the appellate division that Philip Embury was a citizen and resident of New Jersey, and died at West Orange, in that state, after the passage of the act of 1887. He had no real estate in New York, but only certain personal property. He left a will, which was duly probated in the county of his residence, and thereupon the executors withdrew the personal property from New York to New Jersey, and settled up the estate in accordance with the terms of the will. The opinion, after referring to 15 of the act of 1887, said (pp. 216, 217):
Subsequently the court of appeals, in Re Fitch, 160 N. Y. 87, 90, 54 N. E. 701, 702, said, referring to the Embury Case, that it 'held by an affirmance on the opinion below . . . that while the statute declared such of Embury's property to be taxable as was situated in the city of New York, nevertheless, as it omitted to authorize the surrogate to impose the tax, the order made by that officer was without jurisdiction.'
Under this condition an inheritance tax may be collected where the decedent owns both personal and real property within the state of New York, and not where the only property belonging to the decedent situate within the state is personalty. But though the operation of the statutes creates a difference, this, even if intentional, is not of itself sufficient to invalidate the tax. The power of the state in respect to the matter of taxation is very broad, at least, so far as the Federal Constitution is concerned. It may exempt certain property from taxation while all other is subjected thereto. It may tax one class of property be one method of procedure and another by a different method. Bell's Gap. R. Co. v. Pennsylvania, 134 U.S. 232, 238 , 33 S. L. ed. 892, 895, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 533; Pacific Exp. Co. v. Seibert, 142 U.S. 339 , 35 L. ed. 1035, 3 Inters. Com. Rep. 810, 12 Sup. Ct. Rep. 250; Merchants' & M. Nat. Bank v. Pennsylvania, 167 U.S. 461, 464 , 42 S. L. ed. 236, 237, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 829; [211 U.S. 477, 485] Travellers' Ins. Co. v. Connecticut, 185 U.S. 364 , 46 L. ed. 949, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 673; Michigan C. R. Co. v. Powers, 201 U.S. 245 , 50 L. ed. 744, 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 459. The right of exemption has been applied to succession taxes (Magoun v. Illinois Trust & Sav. Bank, 170 U.S. 283, 299 , 42 S. L. ed. 1037, 1044, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 594, 600), in which this court said:
Indeed, it may be laid down as a general rule that mere inequalities or exemptions in the matter of state taxation are not forbidden by the Federal Constitution.
There is no error in the rulings of the courts of the state of New York, and the judgment is affirmed.