Amicus Brief

Harrison Central Appraisal District v The Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co

Case Year: 2011
Case Forum: United States Supreme Court
Keywords: ad valorem taxation, commerce clause, dormant commerce clause
Amicus Counsel:

Laura Mueller | General Counsel Texas Municipal League

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Texas Municipal League
2. Texas City Attorneys Association
3. National League of Cities (NLC)
4. International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA)
5. National Association of Towns and Townships
6. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
7. Alabama League of Municipalities
8. New Jersey League of Municipalities


Amicus counsel argues that the dormant Commerce Clause allows for the ad valorem (according to value) taxation of property stored in the state. The property at issue in the present case is natural gas stored in Texas before ultimately being transported to its final destination. Although the Commerce Clause sets limitations for what constitutes taxable property, it does not “‘relieve those engaged in interstate commerce from their just share of state tax burden.’” The Texas court of appeals utilized multiple tests in order to make its decision regarding whether the natural gas was taxable, however the “continuity of transit” test is no longer necessary in the dormant Commerce Clause analysis because property in interstate commerce may be subject to local taxation. Instead, the Court should rely on Complete Auto’s test to determine the constitutionality of the taxation of products in transit. Additionally, the “physical presence” of the personal property, not the business, should be the test in order to determine the required sufficient contacts for ad valorem taxation to be constitutional because it is analogous to the requirement of the “physical presence” of the business in regard to taxation for the selling of a product. Under the Complete Auto four-part test, natural gas stored in a locality in interstate commerce has sufficient contacts with that locality, and is thus taxable. The natural gas in question here “has a substantial nexus with the taxing” because it is stored pending distribution, and the tax is “fairly related to the services provided by” the taxing entity because the gas is being stored within the taxing entity’s jurisdiction, and receives the services and protections of the state and locality. Moreover, amicus counsel argues that this issue present in this case needs to be decided in order to provide consistent taxation requirements by local governments across the country for the benefit of both localities and property owners conducting business in interstate commerce.


declined to review the appeals

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No
Case Number: 2010-09
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