Amdt14.S1.4.15.2 Notice and Hearing in Relation to Taxes

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Of the different kinds of taxes which the State may impose, there is a vast number of which, from their nature, no notice can be given to the tax-payer, nor would notice be of any possible advantage to him, such as poll taxes, license taxes (not dependent upon the extent of his business), and generally, specific taxes on things, or persons, or occupations. In such cases the legislature, in authorizing the tax, fixes its amount, and that is the end of the matter. If the tax be not paid, the property of the delinquent may be sold, and he be thus deprived of his property. Yet there can be no question, that the proceeding is due process of law, as there is no inquiry into the weight of evidence, or other element of a judicial nature, and nothing could be changed by hearing the tax-payer. No right of his is, therefore, invaded. Thus, if the tax on animals be a fixed sum per head, or on articles a fixed sum per yard, or bushel, or gallon, there is nothing the owner can do which can affect the amount to be collected from him. So, if a person wishes a license to do business of a particular kind, or at a particular place, such as keeping a hotel or a restaurant, or selling liquors, or cigars, or clothes, he has only to pay the amount required by law and go into the business. There is no need in such cases for notice or hearing. So, also, if taxes are imposed in the shape of licenses for privileges, such as those on foreign corporations for doing business in the state, or on domestic corporations for franchises, if the parties desire the privilege, they have only to pay the amount required. In such cases there is no necessity for notice or hearing. The amount of the tax would not be changed by it.1

Footnotes

  1.  Hagar v. Reclamation Dist., 111 U.S. 701, 709-10 (1884).