Is a Law Requiring Corporation to Withhold Tax from Dividend Payments Constitutional ?
In International Harvester Co. v. Wisconsin Department of Taxation, 322 U.S. 435, 441-42, 88 L. Ed. 1373, 1379, 64 S. Ct. 1060, 1064 (1944), the United States Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a Wisconsin law taxing corporate dividends out of income derived from corporate property and business activities in Wisconsin, and requiring the corporation to withhold the tax from dividend payments.
International Harvester argued that it was unconstitutional to tax dividends paid to nonresident stockholders who received their dividends outside the state. International Harvester, 322 U.S. at 443, 88 L. Ed. at 1380, 64 S. Ct. at 1064.
The Supreme Court stated, however, that "personal presence within the state of the stockholder-taxpayers is not essential to the constitutional levy of a tax taken out of so much of the corporation's Wisconsin earnings as is distributed to them." International Harvester, 322 U.S. at 441, 88 L. Ed. at 1379, 64 S. Ct. at 1064.
The court concluded that Wisconsin could constitutionally impose the tax, even as to nonresident stockholders, because the state had afforded protection and benefits to International Harvester's activities and transactions within the state, and this had helped give rise to the dividend income of the stockholders. International Harvester, 322 U.S. at 442, 88 L. Ed. at 1379, 64 S. Ct. at 1064.