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 26 of 96)
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Chap. 453, Laws of 1865, § 3; 2 R. S. 1002.

§ 326. Assessment-roll, Deposit for Inspec-
tion, Notice Thereof. — The assessors shall complete the
assessment-rolls on or before the first day of August in every year,
and shall make out one fair copy thereof, to be left with one of
their number. They shall forthwith cause notices thereof to be left
with one of their number ; they shall forthwith cause notices thereof
to be put up at three or more public places in their town or ward.

2 K. S. 992, § 19, aa ameaded by chap. 110, Laws of 1858, and chap. 536, Laws of


Where the notices were posted by the clerk of the board of assessors, by their
direction, it was held sufficient. The court says: "Inasmuch as the statute pro-
vides that the assessors ' shall cause notices thereof to be put up in three or more
public places,' etc., we think the posting of the notices by the person, other than
an assessor, answers the requirements of the statute."

Board of Supervisors of Oswego County y. Betts, decided by General Term, Fourth
Dept., July, 1889, and not yet reported.

This opinion contains an able discussion, by Mr. Justice Hakdin, of the va-

• lidity of tax deeds under sales for unpaid taxes.

See Decisions, §§ 325, 327.

§ 327. Contents of Notice.— Such notices shall set
forth that the assessors have completed their assessment-roll, and
that a copy thereof is left with one of their number at a place to be
specified therein, where the same may be seen and examined by any
person interested, until the third Tuesday of August; and that on
that day the assessors will meet, at a time and place also to be speci-
fied in such notice, to review their assessments. On the application
of any person, conceiving himself aggrieved, it shall be the duty of
the said assessors on such day, to meet at the time and place speci-
fied, and hear and examine all complaints in relation to such assess-
ments that may be brought before them; and they are hereby

Of the Assessment and Collection of Taxes. 237

empowered, and it shall be their duty, to adjourn from time to time,
as may be necessary, to hear and determine, in accordance with the
rule prescribed by section 15 of said title 2, such complaints. But
in the several cities of this State, the notices required by this section
may conform to the requirements of the respective laws regulating
the time, place and manner for revising assessments in said cities in
all cases where a different time, place and manner is prescribed by
said laws from that mentioned in this act.

Id., § 20, us amended by Laws of 1851, chap. 176, and chap. 536, Laws of 1857.
The term " person or persons" in the above section includes corporations.
Laws of 1857, chap. 536.

The assessor with whom such assessment-roll is left, shall submit
the same during the twenty days specified in such notice, to the in-
spection of all persons who shall apply for that purpose.

2 R. S. 992, § 21.

The use of the words "complete" and "completed," in the above, is mislead-
ing. The same words are used in a subsequent section wherein, on "review day,"
or the day for reviewing assessments, they are required to lessen the valuations
on certain proofs being furnished, and thereafter are required to go before
some officer and verify the assessment after they shall have " completed "
the same, showing that the roll is not complete and ready for delivery to the super-
visors, until after it is verified, and it cannot be verified until after review day.
6Jo that the assessors do not complete, or finish their duties, with respect to the roll
until they verify it ready for delivery to the supervisors.

Westfall v. Preston, 43 N. Y. 349; People, exrel. Gillies, t. Suffern, 68 id. 321-326.

An affidavit to or verification of the assessment-roll prior to the third Tuesday
of August is a nullity.

The giving of the notice above mentioned is essential to the validity of the tax..
The full time required by law must be given.

Wheeler v. Mills, 40 Barb. 644 ; see People v. Turner, 49 Hun, 466.

A substantial compliance with the statute, in the measures preliminary to the
taxation of persons and property, in all matters which are of the substance of the
procedure and designed for the protection of the tax payer, is a condition prece-
dent to the legality and validity of the tax.
Westfall V. Preston, 49 «. T. 349.

After the completion of the roll and formal notice thereof given, the assessors
have no jurisdiction to change either the persons or property assessed or the ad-
judged valuations except upon the complaint of the party aggrieved.
People, ecrel. Chamberlain, v. Forest, 96 N. T. 544.

Nor where property is sold to an exempfrinstitution after July 1st. See section
267, Decisions under heading, " The Time when an Exemption begins."
In this case the assessors intended to assess the plaintiff for $40,000, but entered

238 SuPERVisoKs' Manual.

it on the roll for $4,000. Before notice of the completion of the roll was given
(the notice of August 1st), the mistake was noticed, but not corrected by the as-
sessors, through neglect. After said notice was given and after August 1st, but
hefore review day, one of the assessors changed the assessment to $40,000, which
act was ratified by his associates.

Held, that the mistake was not a mere clerical error but one of pure negligence,
which concerned the very substance and extent of the assessment, and that the
plaintiff was entitled to have the assessment reduced 5y the ccncrt to $4,000.
96 N. T. 544, supra.

What the property-owner finds in the roll left with one of the assessors as
above prescribed, he has a right to rely on, as the determinp.tion of the assessors
to be the amount for which he is to be assessed and taxed for that year.
Id.; Overing V. Foote, 65 N. T. 263.

It seems that where the roll is completed and notice given prior to August 1st,
and a mistake is discovered after such completion and before that day, that the
notice may be countermanded, the roll corrected and completed, and a new notice
given on or before August 1st.
Id. ; 65 N. T. 263.

§ 328. Revie-w Day, Reduction of Valuation.

— ^Whenever any person on his own behalf, or on behalf of those
whom he may represent, shall apply to the assessors of any town or
ward to reduce the value of his real and personal estate, as set down
in the assessment-roll, it shall be the duty of such assessors to ex-
amine such person, imder oath, touching the value of his or their
said real or personal estate ; and after such examination and such
other supplementary evidence, under oath, as shall be presented by
the party or person aggrieved, they shall fix the value thereof at
such sum as they may deem just, under the rule prescribed by sec-
tion* of this title ; but if such person shall refuse to answer any
question as to the value of his real or personal estate, or the amount
thereof, or present sufficient supplementary evidence under oath, to
justify a reduction, the said assessors shall not reduce the value of
such real or personal estate. ■ The examination so taken shall he
written, and shall be subscribed by the person examined, and shall be
filed in the office of the town clerk of the town or city in which
such assessment shall be made ; and any person who shall willfully
swear false on such examination before the assessors shall be deemed
guilty of willful and corrupt perjury. It shall also be the duty of the
assessors, whenever the valuation fixed tof them, after such examina.
tion, shall exceed that sworn to by the aggrieved party or person, to

* It is omitted in the original statute.
+ So in the original.

Of the Assessment and Collection of Taxes. 239

indoi-se on the written examination the words " Disagreed to by the
undersigned assessors, under the rule prescribed for making assess-
ments bj section 15, article 2, title 2, chapter 13, part 1 of the Ke-
vised Statutes, and in view of the obligations imposed by the depo-
sition and oath, subscribed and made on the completion of the as-
sessment-roll, to which this disagreement refers." It shall be the
duty of the assessors, on the same occasion, to furnish the aggrieved
party or person a duplicate copy of the before-mentioned written
examination, together with the indorsement of disagreement afore-
said, duly signed.

2 K. S. 994, as amended by Laws of 1857, chap. 536, § 5.

The assessors have power to administer the oath to any person
applying to them tinder the provisions of the above section.

Id. ; Laws of 1851, chap. 17S.

Making' a False Statement, is a Misdemeanor.

Penal Code, § 485.

See this section of the Penal Code in full, at section 305, ante.

One who fails to subscribe a -written examination has no right to have the de-
duction claimed by him made, even though his examination shows him clearly
entitled to it.

Vose V. Willard, 4T Barb. 20.

If he applies for reduction on his personal property upon the ground that he
was indebted to an amount more than equal to the value of all the personal prop-
erty owned by him, and upon being examined under oath in respect to the amount
he was owing, and the persons to whom he was indebted, stated that he could not
remember whom he owed, the assessors were right in refusing to reduce the
assessment under the evidence.

The assessors have the right to "disagree to" the written examination of a per-
son applying for a reduction if it is not satisfactory to them.

They are to fix the value, after such statement as they may deem just, having
in view the duty to assess the property at its full value.
People V. Fredericks, 48 Barb. 173; 104 N. T. 240, 377.

They are the judges of value and are not bound by proof produced before them,
but are required to exercise their own judgment, notwithstanding such proof.
People, ex, rel. Weatbrook, v. Board of Trustees, 48 N. T. 390.
See, also, "Corporations," " Trustee, Executor," etc., ante.

If the claimant does not furnish evidence to discharge himself from such assess-
ment on grievance day, and the assessors have, in good faith, used all proper
means in their power to ascertain whether he is liable, the assessment is valid.
Yates V. Hugbson, 14 Dig. 271.

240 SuPEKvrsoRs' Manual.

It seeins, that assessors are not required to apply the rigid rules of evidence, in
investigations before them, when assessments are contested.
People, ex rel. R., W. & 0. R. R., y. Hicks, 105 N. Y. 198.

Where the assessors make no objection to the sufficiency of an affidavit pre-
sented for such reduction, but partially make the reduction, the application will
be deemed sufficient to authorize a certiorari to review the assessment.
People, ex rel. Eckerson, t. Christie, 21 N. E. Rep. 1024 (June 11, 1889).

In certiorari to reduce an assessment, it is unnecessary that the property should
be compared with the general rate of assessment of the town, but it is sufficient
to compare it with other tracts of land in the town used for the same purpose.

In assessing property, if the assessors have jurisdiction over the person and

property they are not individually liable for errors, otherwise they are liable.

People, ex rel. Mygatt, v. Supervisors, 11 X. Y. 563; Mygatt v. Washburn, 15 id.

It will be noticed by the above, that the only powers to be exercised by the
assessors on review day are to reduce, not increase, valuation, and that such
reduction can be made only upon the application of the person aggrieved, not
upon the assessors' own motion.

Clark V. Norton, 49 N. Y. 243; People, ex rel. Chamberlain, v. Forrest, 96 id. 544.
See notes to preceding section.
The affidavit must be sworn to iefore the assessors.
People T. Supervisors, 15 Barb. 607.

Even if the owner dies after August 1st, the roll should not be changed,
although the amount might be reduced on review day upon proper proof.

McMahon v. Beekman, 65 How. 427; so held where owner died July 11th, 37 Hun,

§ 329. If Assessors Neglect to Meet on Re-
vie\r Day, Board of Supervisors may Review
and Correct Assessment.— If the assessors shall will-
fully neglect to hold the meeting specified in the last preceding
section, each assessor so neglecting shall be liable to a penalty of
$20, to be sued for and recovered before any court having juris-
diction thereof, by the supervisor of the town, for the use of the
poor of the same town, and in case of such neglect to meet for
review, any person aggrieved by the assessment of the assessors may
appeal to the board of supervisors, at their next meeting, who shall
have power to review and correct such assessment.

Laws of 1851, chap. 176; 2 R. S. 998.

§ 330. Assessment-Roll, -when to be Com-
pleted and Delivered to tbe Supervisors.—
Oatb to, by Assessors. — When the assessors, or a majority

Of the Assessment and Collection of Taxes. 241

of them, sliall have completed their roll, they shall severally appear
before any oflScer of their county authorized by law to administer
oaths, and shall severally make and subscribe before such officer an
oath in the following form : " We, the undersigned, do severally
depose and swear that we have set down in the foregoing assessment-
roll, all the real estate situated in the town (or ward, as the case may
be), according to our best information ; and that, with the exception
of those cases in which the value of the said real estate has been
changed by reason of proof produced before us, we have estimated
the value of the said real estate at the sums which a majority of the
assessors have decided to be the full value thereof ^ and, also, that
the said assessment-roll contains a true statement of the aggregate
amount of the taxable personal estate of each and every person
named in such roll over and above the amount of debts due from
such persons respectively, and excluding such stocks as are other-
wise taxable, and such other property as is exempt by law from
taxation at the full value thereof, according to our best judgment
and belief; which oath shall be written or printed on said roll,
signed by the assessors and certified by the officer, and shall be in
place of the official certificate now required by law. And every
assessor who shall willfully swear false in taking and subscribing
said oath shall be deemed guilty of and liable to the penalties of
willful and corrupt perjury."

Chap. 201, Laws of 1885.

If the venue is omitted, the oath is not defective.
Colman t. Shattuck, 62 N. Y. 348.

An assessment-roll not verified by one of the assessors, and not accompanied by
a certificate of the other assessors stating the cause of such omission, is not defect- ,
ive; and the omission to properly verify it, is not fatal to its validity.

The roll is not "completed" until the oath is duly written or printed, and
certified as required, nor until the assessors have discharged their whole duty in
reference thereto.

People, exrel. Gillies, t. SufEern, 68 N. Y. 321-326.

And the assessors can amend the oath, and thereby supply defects therein.

Parish V. Golden, 35 N. Y. 467 ; K., W. & 0. E. R. v. Smith, 39 Hun, 882; People
T. Jones, 106 N. Y. 330; People t. Haupt, 104 Id. 377.

The oath and certificate must be in substantial compliance with the statute.
Id.- Buffalo & S. L. R. E. T. Board of Supervisors, 48 N. Y. 93; Parish t. Gol-
den, 35 id. 462; Colman v. Shattuck, 62 id. 348.

As to defective oaths, —

See Hinckey t. Barto, 22 Hun, 253; Beach v. Hayes, 58 How. 17; The Nat'l Bank
of Chemung V. City of Elmira, 53 N. Y. 49; Brevoort v. (Mty of Brooklyn, 89id.
128; Inman v. Coleman, 37 Hun, 170; Tan Eensselaer t. Wliitbeok, 7 N. Y. 617;
Bellinger T. Gray, 51 id. 610.

The mfe method is to comply with the statute fully.


242 Supervisors' Manual.

This verification cannot be made until after the third Tuesday of August. If
made before it is a nullity.

Westfall V. Preston, 49 N. T. 349.

Where it appeared in the oath to the assessment-roll instead of the words "by
reason of proo/ produced before us" the word "hereof" was substituted, the
variance was held to be fatal, and the assessment was void.
Shattuckv. Bascom, 105 N. Y. 39.

When a roll, made out in 1849, was not signed by the assessors as required by
the law then in force, but the certificate, which was written upon the roll itself,
and which referred to it as " the above assessment-roll," and as having been the
work of the assessors, was signed, held, that the defect was not jurisdictional, and
so not beyond the reach of the act of 1882.
Ensign v. Barse, lOY N. Y. 329.

It seems, that if the certificate had been written on a separate piece of paper
and attached to the roll, the conclusion would have been the same.
Id., distinguishing 105 N. T. 39, ante.

In that part of the certificate which related to the mode of valuation, the
words "solvent creditor" were written instead of "solvent debtor," held, not a
jurisdictional defect.

In the city of Brooklyn the assessment-roll shall be sworn to by at least two of
the nine assessors to the effect inter alia, " that they have together personally ex-
amined within the year past, each and every lot or parcel of land, etc." An aifl-
davit was subscribed and sworn to by all of the nine assessors, containing the
averment " that at least two of the assessors have together personally ex-
amined," etc., held, a compliance with the statute.
Kane v. Brooklyn, 21 N. E. Rep. 1053.

Also, held, that the law requiring the tax rolls to be signed by the board of su-
pervisors before delivery to the collector, is complied with by their signing the
warrant annexed to the tax rolls.

§ 331. Rolls to be Delivered to To-wn Clerk,
etc. — ^11 assessment-rolls, when linally completed and verified by
the assessors, shall, in towns, on or before the first day of Septem-
ber, and in incorporated villages and cities, at the time prescribed by
their respective charters, or laws applicable to them, be delivered to
the town, village or city clerk, or other officer, to whom such rolls
are or may be required by law to be delivered, and there to remain
with such clerk, or other officer, for a period of fifteen days for pub-
lic inspection. The assessors, or other officers, who complete and
verify the assessment-roll, shall, after they have delivered the same
to the said town, village or city clerk, or other officers, forthwith
give public notice by posting the same in at least three of the most
public places in said town, village or city, or by publishing the
same in one or more newspapers published therein, that such assess-
ment-roll has been finally completed, the officers to whom the same
has been delivered, and the place where the same will be open to
public inspection. The fifteen days from wliich to complete the
time within which the application for the writ of c&rUorari can be

Of the Assessment. awd CoLtECTiOK of Taxes. 243

made under this act shall be the time when said public notice is first

Chap. 269, Laws of 1880, § 9 ; People, exrel. U. & D. R. B., v. Burhans, 25 Hun, 186.
See Decisions under § 333.

§ 332. Roll to be Delivered to Supervisor.—

The roll, thus certified, shall, on or before the first day of September
in every year, be delivered by the assessors of each ward in the city
of New York to the clerk of the city, and by the assessors of every
other town or ward, to the supervisor thereof, who shall deliver the
same to the board of supervisors, at their next meeting.

2B. S. 993, §27.

After delivering, the assessors cannot add names, nor in any way change the

Clark T. Norton, 49 N. T. 243.

except, perhaps, to amend the oath.
See cases in preceding section.

•Where the supervisor took out the leaves containing the non-resident lands and
taxes and Inserted copies, it was held not to vitiate.

Colman v. Shattuck, 62 N. T. 848.

Such practice ought not to be followed. In some cities the time for delivering
the roll is difEerent from the above. The charter of each will govern in these

The assessors in some cities are required to file the original rolls and deliver
certified copies to the supervisors. Such certificate must be in writing, and this
requirement is jurisdictional. A tax appearing upon a book, not so certified, is

O'Donnell v. Molntyre, 37 Hun, 615 ; see, also, People, ex rel. Twenty-third Street
B. R., T. Comrs., 91 N. Y. 593-602.

The provision that the rolls must be filed on or before September 1, is directory
merely, and a delay in filing does not vitiate the assessment. An omission to
give notice of the completion of the roll results in the right to review being un-
limited as to time.

People, ex rel. R., W. & 0. E. B., v. Haupt, 104 N, Y, 377; Same v. Jones, 43
Hun, 131.

Forms Furnished by Comptroller.— The asses-
sors, in the execution of their duties, shall use the forms and pursue
the instructions which shall, from time to time, be transmitted to
them by the comptroller.

2 R . S . 993, § 28. See § 337, "Instructions of Comptroller."

244 SuPEEVisoEs' Manual.

§ 333. Neglect of Assessors.— If any assessor shall
neglect, or from any cause omit to perform his duties, the other as-
sessors, or either of them, of the town or ward, shall perform such
duties, and shall certify to the supervisors with their assessment-roll
the name of such delinquent assessor, stating therein the cause of
such omission.

Id., §30.

§ 334. Duties of the Supervisor after Deliv-
ery of tlie Roll. — The supervisor should carefully examine
the roll delivered to him by the assessors, and see if it is correct in
form and footings, and if not, return it for correction. While the
assessors have no right to make any changes affecting the substantial
requirements of the roll, they do have the right, and it is their duty,
to amend and correct informalities.

R., W. & 0. R. E. T. Smith, 89 Hun, 382.

See Instructions of Comptroller, § 337.

See post, "Committee on Form of Assessment- rolls," and "Form of Assess-

The comptroller, in a circular issued in 1889 (which is set out in
in full at section 337, post), among other things, says : " Your
attention is called to the requirements of law which are: that
you are to add to the assessment-roll of your town for the year
1889, accurate descriptions of the lands on which non-resident
taxes of 1888 and resident and omitted taxes of 1887 have been
rejected, and the correct amount of taxes thereon. Where
you reduce the number of acres, the valuation thereof and taxes
thereon must be reduced in the same proportion; but when the
acres are increased, the valuation and taxes must remain as they

That no interest is to be added to such re-levied taxes.

That you are to furnish the comptroller with all maps and sur-
veys required by him, that unless you fully comply with the above
requirements, the comptroller cannot admit any such rejected taxes
re-levied on the roll for 1889, but that such taxes must then be
charged on your town ; and that all taxes assessed as resident or
omitted for years prior to 1887, and all assessed as non-resident for
years prior to 1888, mv,st be charged on your town. They cannot
be hereafter admitted, nor legally collected, under any circumstances.
* * * As the law further provides that boards of supervisors

Of the Assessment and Collection of Taxes,


shall cause corrected assessment- rolls of each town, or a fair copy
thereof, to be delivered to the collector of taxes for such town, it be-
comes yowr duty to see that the roll delivered to the collector of
your town for this year, is made to fully conform to the i-equire-
ments of law, and that the descriptions, etc., thereon, are free from
all the errors and defects which caused the rejection of the 1888
taxes * * *."

These instructions are applicable every year, and by changing the
dates above given to correspond with the year in which the super-
visor is acting thereon, he can know just what his duties are. It is
the general practice for the supervisor to make a copy of the roll
given him by the assessors, iefore he attends the annual session of
the board of supervisors and not to wait until after the equalization
has been made. In People, ex rel. Wright, v. Chopin, the court
intimates that the board of supervisors should deliver the '■' original "
assessment-roll to the collector, and the " copy " to the supervisor to
be filed in the town clerk's office.

38 Hun, 272-4; see, also, Bradley v. Ward, 68 N. Y. 401.

Both of these should be alike, the one an exact duphcate of the
other, from the first page to the last.

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 26 of 96)