retail dealers in other states who are exempt from a sales tax or any corresponding burden. Another effect, or at least another tendency, must be to avoid the likelihood of a drain upon the revenues of the state, buyers being no longer tempted to place their orders in other states in the effort to escape payment of the tax on local sales. Do these consequences which must have been foreseen, necessitate a holding that the tax upon the use is either a tax upon the operations of interstate commerce or a discrimination against such commerce obstructing or burdening it unlawfully?
1. The tax is not upon the operations of interstate commerce, but upon the privilege of use after commerce is at an end.
Things acquired or transported in interstate commerce may be subjected to a property tax, non-discriminatory in its operation, when they have become part of the common mass of property within the state of destination. . . . Calling the tax an excise when it is laid solely upon the use . . . does not make the power to impose it less, for anything the commerce clause has to say of its validity, than calling it a property tax and laying it on ownership. "A non-discriminatory tax upon local sales . . . has never been regarded as imposing a direct burden upon interstate commerce and has no greater or different effect upon that commerce than a general property tax to which all those enjoying the protection of the State may be subjected." Eastern Air Transport, Inc. v. South Carolina Tax Commission, 285 U.S. 147, 153. . . .
2. The tax upon the use after the property is at rest is not so measured or conditioned as to hamper the transactions of interstate commerce or discriminate against them.
Equality is the theme that runs through all the sections of the statute. There shall be a tax upon the use, but subject to an offset if another use or sales tax has been paid for the same thing. This is true where the offsetting tax became payable to Washington by reason of purchase or use within the state. It is true in exactly the same measure where the offsetting tax has been paid to another state by reason of use or purchase there. No one who uses property in Washington after buying it at retail is to be exempt from a tax upon the privilege of enjoyment except to the extent that he has paid a use or sales tax somewhere. Every one who has paid a use or sales tax anywhere, or, more accurately, in any state, is to that extent to be exempt from the payment of another tax in Washington. . . .
We are told that a tax upon the use, even though not unlawful by force of its effects alone, is vitiated by the motives that led to its adoption. These motives cause it to be stigmatized as equivalent to a protectve tariff. But motives alone will seldom, if ever, invalidate a tax that apart from its motives would be recognized as lawful. Magnano Co. v. Hamilton, 292 U.S. 40, 44; Fox v. Standard Oil Co., 294 U.S. 87, 100, 101. Least of all will they be permitted to accomplish that result when equality and not preference is the end to be achieved. Catch words and labels, such as the words "protective tariff," are subject to the dangers that lurk in metaphors and symbols, and must be watched with circumspection lest they put us off our guard. A tariff, whether protective or for revenue, burdens the very act of importation, and if laid by a state upon its commerce with another is equally unlawful whether protection or revenue is the motive back of it. But a tax upon use, or, what is equivalent for present purposes, a tax upon property after importation is over, is not a clog upon the process of importation at all, any more