George Crane Morehouse.

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Online LibraryGeorge Crane MorehouseThe supervisors' manual : a practical treatise on the law applicable to the duties of supervisors from the date of their election to the end of their official term; also, the law relative to town bonds, railroad aid bonds, defective roads and bridges, town meetings, assessment and collection of taxe → online text (page 22 of 96)
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without reinvestment of the proceeds, are not liable to taxation.
This act is designed to reach the capital of non-residents employed
within this State in a continuous business, and not property sent
here only as to a market for sale.

People, exrel. Parker Mills, i. Comrs., 23 N. Y. 242.

Securities, other than United States stock, deposited by a foreign
insurance company with the oompl/roller as security for policy-hold-
■ers * * *, to enable it to do business in the State, are taxable.

International Life A. Co. v. Comrs., 28 Barb. 318; British Commercial Life Ins.
Co. T. Comrs., 31 N. Y. 32; Smyth v. International, 35 How. 126.

And taxable where the principal office is located.


The fact that such company has ceased to issue new policies in this
State and confines its business to receiving yearly premiums and
paying losses on outstanding policies, does not exempt it from tax-

Smyth V. International, 35 How. 126.

198 SupEKVisoKS' Manual.



An intent to exempt any property is not to be presumed.

Peopl exrel. Twenty-third St. R. R. Co., v. Comrs., 95 N. Y. 554.

An exemption must be described in clear and unamibiguous Ian-
ffuage, and appear to be indisputably within the intention of the

People, ex rd. Westcheater Fire Ins. Co., t. Davenport, 91 N. T. 574.

A presumption that the legislature intended to surrender its right
of taxation in the future by a present exemption therefrom, cannot
be entertained unless such intention is clearly expressed.

People, ear el. Cunningham, v. Roper, 35 N. Y. 629.

Assessors have no power to determine what property is taxable,
that is the province of the legislature, and for an erroneous decision
on their part, as to viKat is taxable property, they are hable the
same as for an erroneous decision, as to who is a taxable inhabitant,
and an assescment founded thereon is void. A decision of asses-
sors in these cases may be attacked collaterally.

North Bank of Chemung v. Elmira, 53 N. Y. 49.

Statutes conferring exemptions are to be strictly construed ;

Buffalo City Cemetery t. City of Buffalo, 46 N. Y. 506.

and are not favored by the courts.

91 N. Y. 575, supra.

People, exrel. Manhattan Fire Ins. Co., y . Comrs., 76 N. Y, 64.

Size of " Lot," etc.. Exempted.— The word " lot'' is
not restricted in meaning to a city lot, but means the whole lot upon
which the buildings exempted, whether college, academy or semi-
nary, are situated, without reference to its value or size, and when
such lot is wholly devoted to the direct use of the schools therein
mentioned, either by supporting its buildings, supplying its daily
wants, or- contributing the means of exercise, recreation and diver-
sion, it is entitled to the exemption thereby created.

People T. Commissioners of Taxes, 6 Hun, 109; affirmed, 64 N. Y. 656.

So held where the farm, on which a college building was situated,
contained two hundred and ninety-four acres, being used for the
maintenance and support of the college, and wholly devoted to its

People, ecrel. Seminary, v. Barber, 42 Hun, 27.

Nor does the fact that the lot is divided by a highway into two

Of the Assbssmekt and Collection of Taxes. 199

parts, one of which is occupied by the college luildviigs and the
other for a garden and recreation purposes, the whole is exempt.

People V. Comrs., 10 Hun, 246.

The Time Trhen an Exemption Beg'ins.— In the

present condition of the decisions on this subject it is difiBcult to
answer the question.

In Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis v. I'he Mayor, it is held
that a transfer of the title to real estate situated in New York county,
between the second Monday of January (the time of opening the
books of annual record) and the first of May (the time of closing
the books), does not affect the taxable status of the property for the
current year, and does not entitle the property to exemption in a
case where the property would have been exempt if the transfer had
taken place prior to opening the books.

The taxable status of property {in New Yorh covmty) is deter-
mined by its condition on the second Monday of January, and any
changes occurring subsequent to that time do not authorize the com-
missioners to do any thing more than to revise the valuation.

61 Hun, 355.

In this case the plaintiff, an exempt institution, purchased the land
in February, 1882, the plaintiff claiming, that because of such
ownership, such property was exempt from taxation in 1882. In
New York county, from September to the succeeding second Mon-
day of January, the deputy tax commissioners are to list and value
property and furnish to the commissioners a detailed statement
thereof, under oath. From the second Monday of January until
May first, the commissioners shall keep in their office books called
" the annual record of the assessed valuation of real and personal
estate," in which shall be entered, in detail, the assessed valuations,
which books shall be open for examination and correction during
said period, but on said May first, the same shall be closed to .enable
the commissioners to prepare assessment-rolls * * * for delivery
to the aldermen. The commissioners, previous to and during the
time said books are open for inspection, shall advertise the fact. The
assessment-rolls contain, in alphabetical order, the assessed valuations
and names.

The commissioners may, at any time before the second day of
April, increase or may diminish at any time before closing of the
books on May first, the assessed valuation. * * * but they shall
not increase such valuations after said books are open for correction
and review, except upon notice being given to the party affected by
such increase, twenty days before the closing of the books.

During the time the books shall be open to public inspection, ap-
plication may be made by any one aggrieved by the assessed val-
uation * * * to have the same corrected. The commissioners,
during the month of May, may act upon applications for reduction,

200 Supervisors' Manual.

filed in their oflSce on or before April 30, and cause the corrected
amount * * * reduced bj them, to be entered upon the rolls.

This statement shows wherein the law for New York county dif-
fers from that in other counties.

The General Term, in the same department, where a religious cor-
poration (an exempt institution) received a deed of real estate in
New York city on June 15, 1883, and commenced on Jiine 28, 1883,
to erect a church edifice upon it. On August 29, 1883, a tax against
the property 'was confirmed by the board of aldermen. JSeld, as the
tax was not a lien at the time when the title was received by the
corporation, that the tax was unlawful because the property was

Wardens, etc., St. James' Church t. Mayor, 41 Hun, 309.

A similar decision was made in Washington Heights M. E. Church
V. Mayor, a case also arising in New York city, by the general term
in the same department.

20 Hun, 29T.

In this case, the plaintifE, in the fall of 1868, began to erect a
church, and in December, 1868, the corner-stone was laid. In June,
1869, it received a deed of the land. The tax was not confirmed
until September, 1869. Held, that the property was exempt from
the time plaintifE entered into possession and began to build a


In Association, etc., v. Mayor, in the court of appeals, the facts
were, that on July 31, 1877, the plaintiff (an exempt institution) took
title by deed, to land in New York city. The land was assessed and
taxed for the year 1877, but the tax was not " confirmed " until Oc-
tober, 1877. The plaintifE contended that because the tax was not
" confirvied" until October, and it received its title July 31, that it
was exempt for 1877. The court held, that it was not exempt.

So that it may be considered settled that the time when a tax is
" confirmed ' ' is not the date that fixes the taxable status of prop-
erty, thus overruling the decisions in 41 Hun, 309, and 20 id. 297.

But the court, in its opinion, uses the following language ;

" From this review of the law it is seen that the initial steps to
levy a tax commence in September of one year and are not con-
cluded by the receipt of the tax warrants by the receiver of taxes
until the September following, covering a whole year in the process.
Even if real estate not on the annual record of assessed valuation at
the time when the books are open for examination could be placed
on, or if real estate that is on could be taken from the record up to
the time of the closing thereof, in the following May, it is clear
that no such alteration could be made after that date, and it is equally
clear that the general scheme of taxation is to enter as assessable
that property which is of that character up to the time when the
record-book is open for examination. If then assessable, its charac-

Of the Assessment and Oolleotion of Taxes. 201

ter would seem to be fixed for the year, but in any event, if assess-
able and assessed at the time the books close, it must remain so for
the purpose of taxation under the assessment-roll that is to be com-
piled from the record of that year. There is no power anywhere
after that to take real estate out of that record and out of the roll,
because since the closing of the record the property has passed into
the hands of an ibstitution exempt from taxation. The exemption
must be held, in such a case as this, to be prospective in its opera-
tion. There is no provision made for any amendment or alteration
of the record after the first day of May, in regard to the assessment
of property (with an exception that does not touch this case, § 820),
and all subsequent proceedings are based upon the absolute stability
of the record from that date, and the assessment-rolls are to be cor-
rect and certified transcripts of the same. Upon this basis the taxes
are carried out by the aldermen, and the rolls, with the proper war-
rants annexed, are delivered to the receiver of taxes, and thus at no
period of time intermediate the closing of the books on the first of
May and the reception of the assessment-rolls and the warrants an-
nexed thereto by the receiver, could any one legally drop this prop-
erty from the assessment-roll. Whether or not the tax had become
a lien at the time when the plaintiff took title is a fact of no mo-
ment. It may be conceded that technically there was then no lien.
For the reasons already given the property was, nevertheless, rightly
on the roll and conld not be legally taken ofi', and the tax was
properly laid and was payable by the plaintiff if it desired to clear
its title to the property."

Assn. for Colored Orphans v. Mayor, 104 N. T. 581-9 (decided March 1, 1887).

The head-note of this case says as follows : " Held^ that as by the
general scheme of taxation applicable to said city * * * the
character of real estate for the purposes of taxation is fixed for the
year on May 1, and if then assessable it remains so, and there is no
power lodged anywhere to take it out of the record-book or the roll
for that year, the tax was properly laid and was payable by plaintiff
if it desired to clear its title ; and this without regard to the ques-
tion as to whether the tax had become a lien when plaintiff took

The language of the head-note is stronger than the decision seems
to justify, and is questioned in 51 Hun, supra, and not followed.

Prior decisions in cases outside of New York county had fixed
July 1 as the date fixing the status of property for taxable purposes,

Mygattv Washburn, 15 N.T. S16; Clark v . Norton, 49 id. 243; Bell v. Pierce,
Slid. 12-16; Overing v. Foote, 65 id. 263; Boyd v. Grey, 34 How. 328-332.

and that on " review day" the assessors can only reduce not increase
valuation, and that such reduction can be made only upon the tax
payer's application, not upon the assessor's own motion.

49 N. T. 243, mpra; 96 id. 544.


202 SuPEKTisoBs' Manual.

After the assessors have published the notice required (of the com-
pletion of the roll) they are not authorized to add the name of &
party to the roll simply by giving him verbal notice.

Overing v. Foote, 65 N. T. 268.

From a review of the cases, until further legislation or decisions
are rendered, definitely settling the question, it is advised that July
1 be considered the date fixing the taxable status of property (out-
side of New York county), uuless some special act governing a
county exists, and that changes made in the title of property after
July 1 be disregarded. If property is taxable or exempt on that
day, so it should remain for that year.

Local Improvements or Assessments.— Gener-
ally speaking, the " exemption " referred to above, does not refer to
assessments for local improvements, sewers, streets, highways, etc.,

Buffalo City Cemetery v. Buffalo, 46 N. T. 606; Eoosevelt Hospital v. Mayor, 84
id. 108; In re St. Joseph's Asylum, 69 id. 853; Hussan v. City of Rochester, 6T
id. 528.

even if it be State property.

67N. T. 528.

It appears that exempt property should not be placed on the roll
by the assessors.

In re Second Avenue M. E. Church, 66 N. Y. 395-9.

Query : Whether the assessors have power to assess exempt prop-
erty for purposes of local improvement.

69 N. Y. 353; but see People, ex rel. Weatbrook, t. Trustees, 48 id. 390; 70 id.
476 ; 69 id. 353, 462.

Rig-lit to Exemption may be Rescinded.—

A statute stating that service in the militia should forever exempt
from taxation to the amount of $500, is not a "contract," and the
repeal of the statute took away the privilege although the service
had been rendered.

People, ex rel. Cunningham, v. Boper, 35 N. Y. 629.

So when a hospital was exempted and a later statute made its
property taxable, held properly subject to taxation thereafter.

People, ex rel. Davies, v. Comrs.,47 N. Y. 501.

So held of the Midland railroad, which was formerly exempted
from all taxes, but by a later statute made taxable.

Hewitt T. N Y. & 0. M. R. B., 12 Bl. 452; Stevens v. Same, 13 id. 104.
See People, e rel. Sears, v. Assessors, 84 N. Y. 610.

So an exemption to a railroad, Jield not to pass by mortgage of its
charter, etc., or included in transfer of franchise to be a corporation
to the purchaser at a judicial sale.

Memphis B. R. v. Comr., 112 U. S. 609; Chesapeake & 0. B. B. v. Mills, 114 id.

Of the Assessment aijd Collectiok of Taxes. 203


Property Exempt from Tasation. — The follow-
ing property shall be exempt from taxation

2R. S.982, |4.

By the Constitution, etc. — 1. All property, real or
personal, exempted from taxation by the Constitution of this State,
or under the Constitution of the United States.

Public Lands. — 2. All lands belonging to this State, or
the United States.

2 B. S. 982, § i, subd. 1 and 2.

Lands held for a governmental and public use are generally ex-

Subdiyision 2, above, is probably repealed.

See chap. 191, Laws of 1878; chap. 140, Laws of 1879; People, exrel. Canajoharie
Nat. Bk., V. Bd. Supervisors, 67 N. Y. 109.

As to taxing State lands in Forest Preserve.
See chap. 280, Laws of 1886, in full, ante.

In the city of New Torli, the mint or branch mint, lands upon which the same
are built, its buildings, machinery, bullion or money deposited, are exempt.
Chap. 46, Laws of 1852.

and the assay office, with its buildings, machinery, metal, bullion, coin, is exempt.
Chap. 406, Laws of 1853.

The property of a municipalUy, acquired and held for governmental and publie
uses and used for a public purpose is not taxable, unless specially included. This
exemption does not depend upon the origin of the title of the municipality, or the
location of the property, but applies whether it was acquired by purchase or
voluntary grant, or as the product of taxation, or whether the property is situated
within or without the territorial limits of the municipality ; that the municipality
uses the property as a ferry thrdugli lessees and derives revenue from the rental
and not by its own operation of the ferry, did not make the franchise or the land-
ing taxable.

So held of a ferry between New York and Brooklyn where the assessors of
Brooklyn had assessed the premises in Brooklyn used as a ferry landing place.
People, ex, rel. Mayor, v. Assessors, 111 N. Y. 505.

Where the city of Rochester, under a statute, imposing upon the city a system
of water- works " for the use of the inhabitants and the extinguishment of fires,''
purchased lands and constructed a, reservoir in the town of Rush, — Held, that
the work was to be regarded as executed for the public benefit and the property
as held for public purposes, and in the absence of an express legislative decla-
ration authorizing it, it was not taxable, and that a tax imposed thereon in said
town was illegal and void.

City of Rochester v. Town of Rush, 80 N. T. 802.

304 Sttpervisoks' Manual.

But a private corporation, organized as a water works company, which has con-
tracted to furnish a town or village with water, for compensation, is not exempt.
See People t. Forrest, 97 N. Y. 97 ; § 258, ante.

See, as to exemption of appraiser's warehouse in New York city,
Chap. 129, Laws 1889.
and of certain lands for " aid of navigation in the East river,"
Chap. 445, Laws 1889.

College, Churches and Seminary Buildings.

— Every building erected for the use of a college, incorporated
academy, or other seminary of learning, and in actual use for either
of such purposes, every building for public worship, every school-
house, court-house and jail used for either of such purposes, and the
several lots ■whereon such buildings so used are situated, and the
furniture belonging to each of them.

2R. S. 982, §4, subd. 3.

In New York city the use must be exclusively for piiblic worship.
Consolidation Act, § 827, chap. 282, Laws 1852.

The Toung Men's Christian Association, in N. Y. city, formed for the improve-
ment of the spiritual, mental and social condition of young men by means of ser-
mons, libraries * * » and other incidents, such as lectures, gymnasium, con-
certs and other entertainments, owned and exclusively occupied a building in that
city containing twenty-two rooms, one only of which was used for public wor-
ship, and that not exclusively, as it was also used for lectures. Held, that thiB
building was not exempt.

Toung Men's Christian Assoc' n v. Mayor, 113 N. Y. 187.

Lands owned by a corporation, the object of whose corporation is " to provide and
maintain a place of refuge for colored orphans, where they shall be boarded and
suitably educated," and by the " house rules *' religious services are required to be
held once a day each Sunday and on certain other days specified, but no visitors to
be admitted Sunday except under pressing circumstances. Held, an " alms-house,"
and exempt. It is not a "school-house" nor a " building for public worship."

An ' ' alms-house " is not necessarily such as are the property of the public, and
used and controlled by the public authorities as receptacles for public paupers.
Ass'n for Colored Orphans v. Mayor, 104 N. Y. 581.

Where the upper story of a building in New York city is used exclusively as a
synagogue, while the lower story contains the living apartments of the janitor,
bath-tubs, accessible for a pecuniary consideration * * * \)y all Jews, whether
■worshippers at that synagogue or not, it is not exempt.
Congregation Kol., etc., v. Mayor, 5 N. Y. Sup. 608.

A church edifice, erected and used for purposes of religious worship, and subse-
quently sold under a judgment of foreclosure to a party who, for a time, during
which certain taxes are levied upon the property, allows it to be used tor public
worship, is not exempt. The law was intended to benefit church societies and
corporations, and as no religious society can be benefited by the exemption of the

Of the Assessment awd Collection of Taxes. 205

property in the hands of a private individual, he cannot maintain an action to
have the taxes declared void.

Black V. Brooklyn, 51 Hun, 681.

In order to he exempt, the title to the property must be in the church, college,

People, exrel. Swigert, v. Anderson, 7 N. E. Rep. 625.

Contra, Church of St. Monica v. Mayor, 55 Super. Ct. (J. &S.)160- S. C. 13 N
y. State Rep. 808. / , . •

Real estate rented by a religious society is not exempt.
Hebrew Free School t. Mayor, 99 N. T. 488.

Lands set apart as a situation for a church to be built are not exempt, nor do lots
used for a cemetery become exempt by the erection on them of a burial chapel.
Trinity Church v. Mayor, 10 How. 138.

A " vacant lot" is not a "building for public worship" however appropriately
dedicated to be used for the erection of such a building; neither is a chapel
erected for religious services at interments in a cemetery.
A "parsonage," although it stands on the same real estate as the church, front-
ing on the same street and only separated by a narrow space, is not exempt.
People, ex rel. Hutchinson, v. Colllson, 22 Abb. N. C. 52.

An incorporated academy or seminary of learning does not waive or forfeit the
exemption from taxation by leasing the building and" premises used by it as a
boarding-house, during the usual summer vacation .

Temple Grove Seminary v. Cramer, 98 N. Y. 121 ; affirming S. C, 26 Hun, 309.

The word " scJiool-house" refers only to such buildings with the sites upon
which they are situated, as the district would have been compelled to pay a tax
upon as owner, had it not been for the exemption created by the statute .

People T. Board of Assessors of Brooklyn, 82 Hun, 457 ; affirmed, 97 N. Y. 648.

Where the board of education leased for school purposes a building thereupon
used as a dwelling-house, held not exempt.

A building erected for the use of and occupied as a private boarding school is

not exempt from taxation.

Chegaray v. Mayor, etc., of N. Y., 13 N. Y. 220; and see Association v. Mayor, 104
id. 581-4. \

The school-houses referred to in this statute are those used for the public com-
mon schools.

Buildings erected and used for private unincorporated seminaries of learning

are not exempt from taxation.

Id. See, also, People v. Campbell, 93 N. Y. 196.

Contra, Church of St. Monica v. Mayor, 55 Super. (J. & S.) 160 j S. C, 13 N. Y.
State Rep. 308.

Where premises of. a parochial school were held exempt, and that incorpora-
tion was not necessary therefor.

Poor-Houses, Aims-Houses, etc.— 4 Every poor-
house, alms-liouse, house of industry, and every house belonging to

206 SuPBKVisoRs' Manual.

a company incorporated for the reformation of offenders, or to im-
prove the moral condition of seamen, and the real and personal
property used for such purposes belonging to or connected with the

2B. S. 982, §4, snbd.4.

Every poor-house, alms-house or other place provided by any city,
town or county, for the reception and support of the poor, and all
real and personal property whatever belonging to or connected with
the same, shall be exempt from all assessment and taxation levied
either by the State or by any county, city, town or village.

SR. S. 186r, §72.
See 104 N. T. 581, last above.

"The Home for the Friendless," organized to prevent vice and moral degrada-
tion by the publication and diffusion of books, papers and tracts, and by other
moral and religious means, and for maintaining houses of industry, etc., is ex-

In re Mary R. Miller, 26 N. Y. W. Dig. 187.

The building of a corporation organized for the gratuitous medical and sur-
gical relief of the poor and used as a hospital for indigent sick and as a dispen-
sary for the relief of the poor, no fee or return being exacted, is exempt.

Western Dispensary v. Mayor, 4 N. T. Sup. 547 ; but see People v. Campbell, 93
N. Y. 196.

The property owned by a charitable corporation used for taking care of found-
lings and other infants, and also containing lying-in wards, are exempt.

New York Infant Asylum v. Supervisors of Westchester County, 31 Hun, 116.

Buildings owned by an incorporated society and used for the custody, educa-
tion and employment of dependent, destitute and friendless children, is a house
of industry and exempt from taxation.

Hebrew Benevolent Orphan Asylum v. Mayor, etc., of New York, 11 Hun, 116.

Where an exempt institution leased its lands, with covenants of renewal, the
lessor having the privilege, at the expiration of term, to resume possession upon
paying lessees the appraised value of the buildings erected by them on the land,

Online LibraryGeorge Crane MorehouseThe supervisors' manual : a practical treatise on the law applicable to the duties of supervisors from the date of their election to the end of their official term; also, the law relative to town bonds, railroad aid bonds, defective roads and bridges, town meetings, assessment and collection of taxe → online text (page 22 of 96)