LANGUAGE

Massalin Particulares S.A. v. Tierra del Fuego Province

The plaintiff (a tobacco company) challenged the constitutionality of Article 9(5)(4) of Provincial Law No. 440, incorporated via Article 4 of Provincial Law No. 566, which imposed local taxes for services needed to verify the legitimacy and origin of cigars and cigarette products coming into the province of Tierra del Fuego, for the consumption of its population. The plaintiff argued that the tax was merely an additional local tax imposed on the consumption of cigarettes to fund a public infrastructure project and that it functioned like a local tariff, which is prohibited by Article 11 of the Magna Carta of Argentina.  Taxes on cigarettes and other harmful substances can only be imposed if the resources are used to directly cover costs for these, but not to fund public infrastructure or carry out any other functions. The plaintiff claimed that the Nation, and not the province, had competence to regulate its products. The Argentinean Supreme Court ruled that the local tax was unconstitutional because it is the Nation that has exclusive competence and that a company could not be taxed twice for the same use.