Constitutional Law – Due Process – Enforced Collection of State Use Tax from Nonresident Vendor
Appellant is a Delaware corporation engaging in the retail furniture business in Delaware. It has no place of business in Maryland, nor does it solicit orders in that state. It does not accept mail or phone orders from Maryland, nor does it advertise in any Maryland publications. The only contacts which the appellant has with Maryland customers, aside from direct dealings at appellant’s retail store, are occasional direct mail advertisements, which it sends to all of its customers wherever located, and deliveries of goods purchased by Maryland customers. These deliveries are either made by commercial carrier or by appellant’s own truck. On one of its delivery runs into Maryland this truck was seized by Maryland authorities and held for satisfaction of a tax claim asserted against appellant by that state. The tax claim was based on the Maryland use tax, which provides that a vendor engaging in business in the state must collect the tax from its customers and remit it to the state or be personally liable. Appellant alleged that imposition of this tax and seizure of its truck were unconstitutional, but the Maryland Supreme Court held it liable for the tax. On appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States held, imposition on appellant of liability for the tax was contrary to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Miller Brothers Company v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 340, 74 S.Ct. 535 (1954).