A Kentucky statute of 1930 levied a tax on gross retail sales at rates varying from 1/20 of one per cent on gross sales up to $400,000 per year, to one per cent on all gross sales over $1,000,000 annually. For the purpose of this tax all retail stores under the same ownership, operation or control, directly or indirectly, were treated as a unit; hence, the heavier rates of the tax fell upon the chain stores and large department stores. A group of chain and department stores sought to enjoin the collection of the tax, as contrary to the state and federal constitutions, and appealed from a state court decision upholding the tax. Held, that the statute is a denial of equal protection of the laws contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment, since it imposes taxes at varying rates upon identical sales, solely upon the basis of the volume of the sales annually, and hence is an unjust and unreasonable classification. Stewart Dry Goods Co. v. Lewis, (U.S. 1935) 55 Sup. Ct. 525.
TAXATION - CONSTITUTIONALITY OF GRADUATED SALES TAXES,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol33/iss8/27