Department of Revenue of Mont. v. Kurth Ranch, 511 U.S. 767, 10 (1994)

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Opinion of the Court

tices, the State Supreme Court found that the legislature had intended to establish a civil, not a criminal, penalty and that the tax had a remedial purpose other than promoting retribution and deterrence. Id., at 65, 836 P. 2d, at 31. The court found that Halper was not controlling, both because it expressly announced " 'a rule for the rare case' " and because the case involved a civil penalty, not a tax. 254 Mont., at 67, 836 P. 2d, at 32-33. The Sorensen court concluded that the drug tax was not excessive and that a tax, unlike the civil sanction at issue in Halper, requires no proof of the State's remedial costs on the part of the State. 254 Mont., at 67-68, 836 P. 2d, at 33.

The Montana Supreme Court's decision is directly at odds with the conclusion reached in the federal proceedings involving the Kurths. We therefore granted certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. 509 U. S. 953 (1993). We now affirm its judgment.


In Halper we considered "whether and under what circumstances a civil penalty may constitute 'punishment' for the purposes of double jeopardy analysis." 490 U. S., at 436. Our answer to that question does not decide the different question whether Montana's tax should be characterized as punishment.

Halper was convicted of 65 separate violations of the criminal false claims statute, 18 U. S. C. 287, each involving a demand for $12 in reimbursement for medical services worth only $3. After Halper was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $5,000, the Government filed a separate action to recover a $2,000 civil penalty for each of the 65 violations. See 31 U. S. C. 3729 (1982 ed., Supp. II). The District Court found that the $130,000 recovery the statute authorized "bore no 'rational relation' to the sum of the Government's $585 actual loss plus its costs in investigating and prosecuting Halper's false claims." 490 U. S., at 439. In

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