Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Div. of Taxation, 504 U.S. 768, 12 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 768 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

appreciable extent throughout the entire domain of operation." Adams Express Co. v. Ohio State Auditor, 165 U. S. 194, 220-221 (1897) (citing Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Attorney General of Massachusetts, 125 U. S. 530 (1888)); Massachusetts v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 141 U. S. 40 (1891); Maine v. Grand Trunk R. Co., 142 U. S. 217 (1891); Pittsburgh, C., C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Backus, 154 U. S. 421 (1894); Cleveland, C., C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Backus, 154 U. S. 439 (1894); Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Taggart, 163 U. S. 1 (1896); Pullman's Palace Car Co. v. Pennsylvania, 141 U. S. 18 (1891).

Adams Express recognized that the principles that permit

a State to levy a tax on the capital stock of a railroad, telegraph, or sleeping car company by reference to its unitary business also allow proportional valuation of a unitary business in enterprises of other sorts. As the Court explained: "The physical unity existing in the former is lacking in the latter; but there is the same unity in the use of the entire property for the specific purpose, and there are the same elements of value arising from such use." 165 U. S., at 221.

The unitary business principle was later permitted for state taxation of corporate income as well as property and capital. Thus, in Underwood Typewriter Co. v. Chamberlain, 254 U. S. 113, 120-121 (1920), we explained:

"The profits of the corporation were largely earned by a series of transactions beginning with manufacture in Connecticut and ending with sale in other States. In this it was typical of a large part of the manufacturing business conducted in the State. The legislature in attempting to put upon this business its fair share of the burden of taxation was faced with the impossibility of allocating specifically the profits earned by the processes conducted within its borders. It, therefore, adopted a method of apportionment which, for all that appears in this record, reached, and was meant to reach, only the profits earned within the State."


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