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Ramac Explosives Inc. v. Director

Decided: May 7, 1974.

RAMAC EXPLOSIVES, INC., RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT, AND NEW JERSEY CRUSHED STONE ASSOCIATION, INC., INTERVENOR-RESPONDENT,
v.
DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF TAXATION, APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court, Appellate Division.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Hughes and Justices Jacobs, Mountain, Sullivan and Clifford. For reversal -- Justice Pashman. Pashman, J., (dissenting).

Per Curiam

We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division substantially for the reasons set forth in its opinion reported in 125 N.J. Super. 154 (1973) except that we withhold our approval of that part of the opinion which states that the pattern of the New Jersey Sales and Use Tax Act (N.J.S.A. 54:32B-1, et seq.) "is to tax only the end product of a process." This statement may be too broadly put and in any event was unnecessary to the court's conclusion.

Affirmed.

PASHMAN, J., (dissenting). The majority concludes that while dynamite utilized for rock blasting is a "chemical" or "catalyst," it does not induce or cause a "chemical process" within N.J.S.A. 54:32B-8(t), exempting from sales taxation materials "* * * used to induce or cause a refining or chemical process * * *." I agree. The question, then, is whether blasting in a stone quarry is a "refining process."

The majority has chosen to construe the word "refining" in a broad inclusive sense rather than adopting the more restrictive meaning urged by the Director. The word "to refine" is defined in Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1908 (1971):

to reduce to a fine, unmixed, or pure state: separate from extraneous matter * * *.

The definition lends context to the meaning by setting forth various illustrations of those materials which have undergone some sort of chemical change, not a mere physical transformation.

The word "refining" is defined as follows:

[T]he action or process of removing impurities from a crude or impure material: as (a) of metals: subjection to high heat or other purification methods (as electrolysis or treatment with chemicals) * * * (b) of glass: * * * (c) of sugar: processing in a series of steps ending with crystallization (d) of petroleum: fractional distillation usually followed by other processing (as cracking).

The dictionary examples adopted by the majority opinion refer to a process in which the final products differ chemically from the initial components. Selective blasting physically alters the size and composition of rock. The stone is reduced in size and partially separated from soil, clay and other extraneous organic material. But the rock has not undergone any chemical change as the definitive illustrations seem to require. The end product is exactly the same. In ordinary language usage, it is most unusual to think that a mountain is being "refined" during blasting.

The majority has so strained its interpretation of N.J.S.A. 54:32B-8(t) that the statute has lost its intended limitations and its force. Instead of limiting the term "refining process" to its ordinary meaning -- a process in which the end products differ chemically from the ...


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