Page images
PDF
EPUB

3. HOW, AND UPON WHOM TO BE ASSESSED, AND FOR WHAT

PROPERTY

[ocr errors]

Trustees are required by $ 85 of the act of 1847, (No. 108,) to apportion taxes,

on all taxable inhubitants of the district, or corporations holding property therein.” This provision includes, of course, all actual residents of the district ; and is extended by $ 87, (No. 110,) to "every person owning or holding any real property within any school district, who shall improve and occupy the same by liis agent or servant,” whether he resides in the district or not. They are also to apportion taxes upon all real estate lying within the boundaries of such district, the owners of which shall be non-residents, and which shall be liable to taxation for town or county purposes, and shall be situated within three miles of the site of the school-house in such district." This includes uncultivated and unimproved lands owned by non-residents, and situated in tlie district, and is an extension of the power given by $78 of the old act, which limited the lands of non-residents, subject to taxation, to those which were actually cleared and cultivated. The trustees may, in their discretion, omit to assess any tract or parcel of unoccupied non-resident land in their district, where the proportion of the tax payable therefor, would not amount to fifty cents. This provision is inserted to save the trouble of the subsequent proceedings rendered necessary in such cases, where so small a sum only can be finally collected.

The apportionment is also io be made according to the valuations of the taxable property which shall be owned or possessed by then, (the inhabitants of the district, &c. as aforesaid,) at the time of making out such lişt; within such district, or partly within such district and partly in an adjoining district.

Taking these provisions together, the following general principles may be deduced:

1. All the actual inhabitants of a district are taxable for the whole property, real and personal, owned or held by them within the district. Executors and administrators having in their possession or under their control the property of their testator or intestate, within the district are taxable therefor, in their representative capacity, as executors, &c.

2. They are also taxable for any real property owned by them, lying partly within such district and partly in an adjoining district—that is, for such property as at the t.me of making out the tax list is owned by them and intersected by the boundaries of the district. In this respect the old law is not substantially altered. Nor is it in any sense material when the title of the owner to the whole or any part of thie land so intersected accrued, whether before or after the organization of the district, so that it helonged to him at the time of making out the tax list, and is then intersected by the boundaries of such district. In such case, no matter what may be the respective proportions of the land owned in each district, the owner is taxable for the whole farm or property belonging to him, and which is connected and occupied as one farm in the district where he resides, only; and being so liable there, he cannot, of course, be taxed for the same property in any other district.

The principles of law applicable to the taxation of school district purposes, of real estate intersected by the boundary line between two districts, are these : Each inhabitant of a school district is taxable, under $ 85 act of 1847, (No. 108,) in the district where he actually resides “ according to the valuations of the taxable property which shall be owned or possessed by him, at the time of making out such list, within such district, or partly within such district and partly in an adjoining district.” This principle has been repeatedly recognized and asserted; and the only difficulty consists in its practical application to a class of cases supposed to come within the purview of a series of decisions made by Superintendents FLAGG and Dix, confining its operation to the period of the organization of the district. At page 24 of the volume of “Common School Decisions," Mr. FLAGG says, “The principle is, that where a line between two districts runs through a man's farm, he shall be taxed for the whole of his farm, in the district where his house stands, or where he resides.” And he observes that on this point the law is clear, and that such has been the construction given it. " The same principle,” he adds, governs the town assessments;" the provision of law in this respect being that “where the line between two towns divides any occupied lot or farm, the same shall be taxed in the town where the occupant lives, provided he or she lives on the lot." At page 69, however, of the same volume he lays down the rule in the following terms: "Where a person purchased a lot in an adjoining district, along side of his farm, it was decided that he was taxable for the lot purchased, in the district where it was situated. If his farm had been interesected by the district line when the commissioners formed it, then he would have been assessed for his whole farm in the district where his house was situated; but the lot purchased is a distinct lot, and the lines of districts cannot be changed by individual purchases.". The same doctrine is asserted in a subsequent decision made by Gen. Dix, at page 128 of the volume referred to. These two decisions have been repeatedly over-ruled by subsequent Superintendents, upon the ground that they establish a criterion by which to determine the liability of property to taxation, in the class of cases under consideration, not recognized by the statute, viz : intersection by the boundary line of the district, at the time of the formation of the district, instead of at the time of making out the tax list. The language of the statute, in this respect, seems to be clear and explicit : “ In making out a tax list, the trustees of school districts shall apportion the same on all the taxable inhabitants of the district, or corporations holding property therein, according to the valuations of the taxable property which shall be owned or possessed by them, at the time of making out such list, within

such district, or partly within such district and partly in an adjoining district."

The owner or occupant of a farm, therefore, situated partly in two adjoining districts, is taxable in the district where he actually resides, for the whole farm, provided he occupies or improves the whole as one farm, either by himself, his agents, or servants. So if the owner of a farm situated wholiy in one district, purchases a piece of land adjoining his farm, in another, and occupies the whole as one farm, it is taxable only in the district where such owner resides.

If, however, there is a tenant on that portion of the farm situated in a different district from that of the owner's residence, such tenant is taxable in the district where he resides, for so much of the property as he rents or leases.

This rule of taxation in no respect interferes, as has frequently been supposed, and as 'seems to be inferred from the tenor of the above named decisions of Messrs. Flagg and Dix, with the boundaries of the respective districts. They remain unaltered and unaffected; so that if that portion of a farm situated in a district other than that of the owner's résidence, should again be sold to an inhabitant of the district in which it is situated, it would again become taxable in that district. The rule is one simply of taxation : and no more interferes with the territorial organization of districts, than does the corresponding principle applicable to town assessments, with the boundary lines of towns or counties. It is based upon the injustice and inexpediency of requiring an inhabitant of one district to contribute to the expense of supporting the schools in another, merely because a part of his farm extends beyond the boundary line of his district, and operating, as it does, equally in every district, furnishes a guide to trustees in the assessment of taxes, which relieves them from much embarrassment and labor, otherwise unavoidable, in determining as to the relative value of detached portions of the same farm situated on either side of the boundary line of their districts.

3. All non-resident owners of real estate in the district, who improve and occupy the same by their agents or servants, are by $ 87, (No. 110,) taxable therein for the property so owned, improved and occupied, in the same manner as though they actually resided therein. This provision is also to be construed in connexion with those above referred to, and is applicable in its full extent only to cases where the property so occupied is wholly situated in the district. Where it is situated partly in the district where the owner actually resides, it is taxable only in that district. And where it is situated partly in two or more districts, in neither of which the owner resides, each districts must tax such owner only for the part actually within its boundaries. It is also to be borne in mind that this class of cases is distinct from that in which the land is occupied by a tenant--and also from that in which it is so occupied by a person working it under a contract for a share of the produce of such land. In each of these cases the actual possessor is to be taxed in the same manner as though he were the owner. mee g 86, (No. 109.) and 8 88, (No. 111.)

4. All real estate situate in a district, within three miles of the school-house therein, and owned by non-residents, not included in either of the above class of cases, is also liable to taxation, and forms the subject of the directions contained in $ 89 to 95 inclusive, in the act of 1847, (Nos. 112 to 118, both inclusive.)

5. Land in the district belonging to corporations, whether cultivated or not, is taxable for school district purposes. The provision in the act of 1847, in this respect, produces a material alteration of the law as it formerly stood, and renders turnpike, railroad and plank road corporations taxable for so much of the land owned by them as is situated within the respective school districts through which their roads pass. Such corporations and all others, are to be regarded as residents of the districts where their principal place of carrying on business is situated, and non-residents elsewhere.

By a decree of the Chancellor of this state, 4th vol. Paige's Chan. Rep. 384, it has been decided that railroad 65 companies, whose stock, or the principal part thereof, is vested in the lands necessary for their roads, and in their railways and other fixtures connected therewith, are taxable on that portion of their capital as real estate in the several towns or wards in which such real estate is situated.” They are, of course, taxable in school districts for common school purposes, on so much of such real estate as is included within the boundaries of those districts.

In the decree referred to, it was also decided that such real estate “is to be taxed upon its actual value at the time of the assessment, whether that value is more or less than the original cost thereof."

In ascertaining the value of so much real estate as is included within the boundaries of a school district, the trustees inust, from the necessity of the case, be guided by the best evidence which it is in their power to obtain. They should ascertain from the assessment roll of the town the aggregate value of so much of the real estate of the company as is within the town. They should then ascertain whether the proportion of that value, in respect to the railway included within their district, is equal to the value of the whole of the real estate of the company included within another district, in which the length of the railway is the same. This cannot always be the case, for within the boundaries of one school district the company will have a depot, while it has none in another district. Within one school district the railway may have a double, while in another it may have but a single track. All these circumstances must be ascertained and taken into consideration by the trustees. If the company has in a school district nothing but its railway, and has a depot within the same town, then the value of the depot should be deducted from the valution of the real estate of the company on the last assessment roll of the town, as pre

ar

liminary to a valuation of that part of the railway which is within the boundaries of such district.---Com. School Dec. 350.

The same principles are, in the main, applicable to plank road corporations.

Banks are taxable for common school purposes. Id. 87.

Associations formed under the general banking law are corporations, and as such are liable to taxation on their capital.-1 Hill's Rep. 616; 3 id. 389.

By chap. 327, Laws of 1846, rents reserved in any leases in fee, or for one or more lives, or for a term of yea s exceeding twenty-one years, and chargeable upon lands in any town or ward,"

to be “assessed to the person or persons entitled to receive the same as personal estate, at a principal sum, the interest of which, at the legal rate per annum, shall produce a sum equal to such annual rents; and in case such rents are payable in any other thing except money, the value of such annual rents in money shall be ascertained by the assessors, and the same shall be assessed in manner aforesaid.” Trustees of districts are to include this species of property in their tax lists ; and if no property can be found on which to levy, and the tax remains unpaid, the collector should return accordingly, and the trustees apply to the County Treasurer, wlio is required to issue his warrant to the Sheriff of the County where any real or personal estate of the person upon whom such tax is imposed, may be found, for the collection thereof. PROCEEDINGS IN CASE OF UNOCCUPIED AND UNIMPROVED NON

RESIDENT LANDS.

Where any real estate within a district, liable to taxation, is unoccupied, the trustees, at the time of making out their tax list, are required by $ 89 of the act of 1847, (No. 112,) whenever they impose a iax on such property, “ to make out and insert in such tax list a statement and description of every such lot, piece or parcel of land so owned by non-residents tht rein, in the same manner as required by law from town assessors, in making out the assessment rolls of their towns.” Ir the tax is returned by the collector unpaid, upon receiving from him an account thereof, with the descriptions of the property, as directed to be made, and the amount of the tax, together with an affidavit of the fact of non-payment, and of due diligence used for the collection, the trustees are to credit him with the amount, $ 90, (No. 113,) to compare the account so rendered with the original tax list, certify to its accuracy, and transmit it, together with the collectors affidavit and their certificate, to the county treasurer, $ 91, (No. 114,) who is to pay the amount so returned out of any moneys in the treasury raised for contingent expenses. $ 92, (No. 115.)

Such county treasurer is to lay the account, affidavit and certificate before the board of supervisors, who are to cause the amount of such unpaid taxes,with seven per cent in addition, to be levied on the lands of the respective non-residents liable to pay the

« PreviousContinue »