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Buckley v. Fulton B. Huston

Decided: July 9, 1971.

ROMANUS J. BUCKLEY, REVENUE COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COLLECTION OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
FULTON B. HUSTON, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Conford, Kolovsky and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conford, P.J.A.D.

Conford

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Atlantic County District Court denying recovery by the taxing authority of the City of Philadelphia of delinquent wage taxes due over a long period of time from defendant, a New Jersey resident who was employed during that period in Philadelphia.

The issues argued before us have revolved around two questions: (a) whether New Jersey has authorized collection here of this tax by enactment in 1962 of an amendment of N.J.S.A. 54:8A-46 (L. 1962, c. 70, § 9); (b) whether, independent of the statute, New Jersey should as a matter of general policy allow its courts to be used for recovery of taxes owing to an out-of-state taxing jurisdiction.

We have concluded (1) that by the enactment of the statute cited above the Legislature has made the terms and conditions of that act the conclusive criteria for the existence vel non of a right of recovery of the taxes here involved, and (2) that the act, properly construed, precludes recovery.

In 1961 the Legislature adopted L. 1961, c. 32, commonly known as the Emergency Transportation Tax Act. The purpose of the act was to raise money to meet the costs of solution of commuter transportation problems in so-called critical commuter areas comprising parts of New Jersey and other states -- such areas to be designated annually by the Commissioner of Transportation. The act provided for a New Jersey state income tax on New Jersey residents deriving income in the critical commuter area of the other state and

on residents of that state deriving income within the critical commuter area here, with a contemplated scheme of credits by either such state (New York long has provided for such a credit) against income taxes imposed by it for the amount of payments of tax to the other. From the beginning the only critical commuter area designated administratively has been the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.

In 1962 the act was amended (L. 1962, c. 70, § 9) to provide as follows (N.J.S.A. 54:8A-46):

(a) At the request of the Division of Taxation, the Attorney General may bring suit, in the name of this state, in the appropriate court of any other State to collect any tax legally due this State under this act.

(b) The courts of this State shall recognize and enforce liabilities for taxes lawfully imposed by any other State, upon incomes , which extends a like comity to this State, and the duly authorized officer of any such State may sue for the collection of such a tax in the courts of this State. * * *

(c) For the purposes of this section, the words "tax" and "taxes" shall include interest and penalties due under this act, and liability for such interest or penalties or both, due under a taxing statute of another State shall be recognized and enforced by the courts of this State to the same extent that the laws of such other State permit the enforcement in its courts of liability for such interest or penalties or both, due under this act. (Emphasis added.)

The county district court held that the provisions of (b) of the foregoing were controlling, and that since it specified only taxes imposed by another "State" as the permitted object of an action here, taxes imposed by a municipality in another state were not intended to be recoverable here. Although we disagree with the approach of the county district court in regarding the statutory provision as a taxing statute, and therefore of a category which should be construed in favor of the taxpayer, we nevertheless agree with the result reached. The pertinent provisions of N.J.S.A. 54:8A-46 are not taxing legislation but of a ...


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