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City of Newark v. State Board of Tax Appeals

Decided: January 19, 1942.

THE CITY OF NEWARK, PROSECUTOR,
v.
STATE BOARD OF TAX APPEALS AND SUN OIL COMPANY, RESPONDENTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Raymond Schroeder (Joseph A. Ward, of counsel).

For the respondents, McCarter, English & Egner (George W. C. McCarter, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Perskie and Porter.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. The single issue in this case is whether in affirming the Essex County Board of Taxation, the State Board of Tax Appeals correctly decided that the chief office of the respondent company for tax purposes was not in the City of Newark.

On November 28th, 1939, the City of Newark caused to be filed with the Essex County Board of Taxation a "complaint and petition" praying for the addition to the tax rolls of the city for the year of 1938 of $31,101,675.69 of intangible personalty allegedly owned by respondent and "wholly omitted from the tax return" filed. The "complaint and petition" had for its basic premise the averment that respondent's "chief office" on October 1st, 1937, the assessing date, was located "at 436-454 Doremus Avenue, in the Taxing District

of Newark, Essex County." The County Board dismissed the petition upon the ground that respondent's chief office was not in Newark. After hearing, upon proper proofs submitted to it the State Board affirmed. City of Newark v. Sun Oil Co., 19 N.J. Mis. R. 370; 19 A.2d 684. Prosecutor was allowed a writ of certiorari.

This court has relatively recently stated the principles involved. See Herdman Motor Co. v. State Board of Tax Appeals, 119 N.J.L. 164; 194 A. 870. We have pointed out that, generally speaking, intangibles are taxable at the domicil of the owner, and that the "domicil" of a corporation for this purpose is where its "chief office" is located. Id. (at p. 168). The question of where the "chief office" of a corporation is located for tax purposes was held to be a question of fact. Id. (at p. 169). In order, therefore, to resolve the issue first stated as being before us on the return of the writ, we turn to the proofs.

Respondent is a corporation organized under the laws of this state with its "principal office" or "registered office" at 15 Exchange Place, in Jersey City. N.J.S.A. 14:4-1, et seq. It is engaged in the production, transportation, refining, and marketing of petroleum oils, and, as of the assessment date, did business in over thirty-six states in the Union. The executive officers of the company, a president, his assistant, four vice-presidents, and a secretary and treasurer, all have their offices at 1608 Walnut Street, in the City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Directors' meetings are held in Philadelphia and the records of the company, except for those required to be kept in this state and except for memorandum records of inventories and equipment, are kept in Philadelphia. The company maintains no refineries or oil wells in this state and its business here consists merely of the distribution of its petroleum products.

The company has six regional offices, one each in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Jacksonville. There are three district offices in this state, one in Newark, which is under the New York regional office, and one each in Trenton and Atlantic City, the latter two ...


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