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Session Laws, 1963
Volume 671, Page 2216   View pdf image (33K)
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2216                                      VETOES

Letter from State Law Department on House Bill No. 506

May 2, 1963.

Honorable J. Millard Tawes
Governor of Maryland
State House
Annapolis, Maryland

Re: House Bill No. 506
Dear Governor Tawes:

House Bill No. 506, submitted to this office for review as to its
legal sufficiency, is a measure empowering the County Commis-
sioners of Carroll County to impose a "license tax" upon the owners
of motor vehicle junk yards. It provides that any such tax so im-
posed "shall be levied according to the number of junked motor
vehicles in the motor vehicle junk yard"; and it authorizes the Com-
missioners "to eliminate any county taxes applicable heretofore for
inventory of junked motor vehicles in any such motor vehicle junk
yard should an annual license tax be imposed". The Bill also gives
the Commissioners regulatory powers, which powers are limited to
"rules, regulations and orders necessary for the purpose of levying
and collecting the tax imposed". However, the tax collected may be
used "as the County Commissioners of Carroll County, in their dis-
cretion, may determine".

It is our opinion that the tax proposed by this Bill is not a "license
tax"—although it is called such—but a "property tax". The pro-
visions of the Bill itself compel such a conclusion:

1.   License taxes are taxes imposed under the police powers and
are intended not to be revenue-producing, but merely to meet the
incidental costs of maintaining regulatory laws designed to protect
the public welfare. Here, however, there is no exercise of the police
powers, for the County Commissioners are not empowered to specify
under what circumstances the junk yards are to be operated and
licensed; indeed, the statute really does not appear to contemplate
the issuance of licenses at all.

2.   The present discretion given the County Commissioners re-
specting the application of the tax monies collected also bolsters the
conclusion that the Bill is a revenue measure and not a legislative
enactment under the police powers.

3.   That the tax created would be a property tax—as distinguished
from either a license or use tax—is persuasively demonstrated by
the fact that the Legislature has expressly stated its intention that
such tax should be imposed in lieu of the presently existing property
tax on inventory.

As a property tax, then, that contemplated by House Bill No. 506
fails to meet the constitutional requirements of uniformity and
equality specified in Article 15 of the Declaration of Rights. Equality
and uniformity are achieved in property taxation only when the tax
imposed bears a direct relationship to, and is determined solely by,
the value of the property taxed. Anne Arundel County v. English,
182 Md. 514. The tax contemplated by this legislation, however,
would not be based upon the value of the junked motor vehicles in a


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Session Laws, 1963
Volume 671, Page 2216   View pdf image (33K)
 Jump to  

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