In re Property Valuation Appeals of Various ApplicantsAnnotate this Case
The taxpayers in this case were out-of-state natural gas marketing companies, out-of-state local distribution companies that were certified as public utilities in their states, and out-of-state municipalities. Each taxpayer bought natural gas from producers or other marketers then delivered it to pipelines under contracts allowing the taxpayers to withdraw equivalent amounts of gas at a later time from out-of-state distribution points. The taxpayers filed requests for ad valorem tax exemption, claiming the natural gas was exempt under Kan. Const. art. 11, 1, which exempts merchants' inventory from ad valorem taxation but does not exempt tangible personal property owned by a public utility. The Kansas Court of Tax Appeals determined the natural gas was not exempt because the taxpayers were public utilities pursuant to Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-5a01. The Supreme Court held (1) the taxation at issue did not violate the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution; (2) section 79-5a01 was constitutional as applied to the out-of-state local distribution companies; but (3) section 79-5a01 was unconstitutional as applied to the out-of-state natural gas marketing companies and those taxpayers that were out-of-state municipalities because those entities were not public utilities under the meaning of the statute.