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METHOD OR FORM OF ASSESSMENT; TIME OF ASSESSMENT; PREPARATION AND COMPLETION OF ASSESSMENT ROLL;
HEARING OF COMPLAINTS; REPORTS OF CORPORATIONS. The administrative work of assessment for the purpose of local taxation divides itself into three principal parts, the first of which concerns itself with the ascertainment of the names and property subject to taxation and the filing of reports of corporations, the second of which has to do with the filing of statements and the hearing of complaints of those dissatisfied with the preliminary or tentative assessments, and the third concerns itself with the preparation and completion of the final assessment roll.
Assessors to ascertain persons and property taxable.—The assessors in each tax district shall, annually, between May 1st and July 1st, ascertain by diligent inquiry, all the property and the names of all the persons taxable therein, except that in towns containing an incorporated village having a population of more than ten thousand inhabitants, according to the last state census, the assessors may have from April 15th until July 1st to ascertain the taxable property and names of persons taxable in such town, and except that in towns containing an incorporated city having a population of more than ten thousand inhabitants, according to the last state census, where said city so situated shall have its own separate board of assessors, the town assessors may have from May 1st to July 1st to ascertain the taxable property and names of persons taxable in such towns, and provided that the town board in any town may, by resolution, determine that a longer time is required by the assessors of the town than is hereinabove provided for, and may, in such resolution, determine that the assessors of such town shall begin their work at a time after the first day of January in any year to be fixed in such resolution. The comptroller shall on or about May fifteenth in each year transmit to the assessors of each tax district a statement of all lands owned by the state in such district and such statement shall be used by the assessors in making up their assessment-rolls and shall be considered by them as their authority to assess to the state such of the lands described
thereon as are legally subject to taxation. (Sec. 20, of present Tag Law, as amended by chs. 116 and 805, L. 1911, ch. 270, L. 1912.)
Source: The first paragraph down to the first exception is in substance the same as secs. 7 and 8, 2 R. S., pt. 1, ch. XIII, title 2, and was incorporated in the Tax Law of 1896; the remainder was added by amendment; L. 1900, ch. 512, L. 1902, ch. 324, L. 1905, ch. 61, L. 1911, chs. 116, 905, and L. 1912, ch. 270.
What is a tax district ?- "Tax district” as that term is used in the present and former Tax Law, means a political subdivision of the state having a board of assessors authorized to assess property for state and county taxes. (Sec. 2, Tax Law.) Under this definition, the city of New York, made up of five boroughs, but having a single board of assessors, is one tax district, as far as corporations are concerned. People ex rel. Moller v. O'Donnell, 106 App. Div. 526 (1905). Reversed on another point applicable to executors residing in different boroughs, 183 N. Y. 9 (1905).
Previous to the adoption of the Tax Law, the territorial unit of assessment referred to in the revised statutes was the town or ward, but as in many cities having a single board of assessors the ward divisions were no longer recognized, the Tax Law substituted “tax district" and defined its application.
An incorporated village having its own Board of Assessors is not a "tax district"; because they are not authorized to assess property for state and county purposes. People ex rel. Champlin v. Gray, 185 N. Y. 196 (1906).
Who may assess property.-One assessor cannot make an assessment; it is the joint act of all, or at least of a majority of the assessors. People ex rel. Mygatt v. Supervisors, 11 N. Y. 563 (1854). Where an assessment was made by one assessor only, and neither of the other assessors took part in it, it was held void, and afforded no grounds for proceedings for contempt in refusing to pay the tax. Metcalf v. Messenger, 46 Barb. 325 (1864). Two assessors, however, can make an assessment, when they constitute a majority. People ex rel. Delaware, &c. Canal Co. v. Barker, 45 Hun, 432 (1887).
Time of assessment.—The assessment should be considered as made at the expiration of the time limited for making the inquiry, namely, on the first day of July. A person who removed before the end of the assessing period was not liable. Mygatt v. Washburn, 15 N. Y. 316 (1857). Thus a change of residence of the owner, or in the ownership of the property after the first day of July, does not affect the assessment roll. Any changes which the assessors are authorized to make after that date, are simply to correct mistakes. Boyd v. Gray, 34 How. Pr. 323 (1867). And, if the assessors, for any reason, delay in making the assessment until after that date, it will not be considered as a reason for reducing or increasing an assessment. People ex rel. Seelye v. Keefe, 119 App. Div. 714 (1907), affirmed on opinion below 190 N. Y. 555 (1908).
While no new names or property afterwards acquired can be added to the rolls after July 1st, the assessors have until August 1st to correct or reduce the assessment. People ex rel. Chamberlain v. Forrest, 96 N. Y. 544, and the Legislature may exempt property until the latter date.
In the Matter of Pullman, 52 Misc. 1 (1906), the court decided at Special Term that a mortgage subject to personal tax on July 1st, but renewed after that date by a mortgage paying the recording tax, was exempt from taxation, because the tax was paid before the assessment was completed. This case would seem to hold the contrary view on the question of the taxable status being fixed as of July 1st. The case was never appealed and is in direct conflict with the cases above mentioned, as well as with the later case of People ex rel. Seelye v. Keefe, supra. There the mortgage tax was paid prior to the completion of the assessment roll, and it was held that a delayed assessment is deemed to have been made within the statutory time and that the assessors are without power to tax mortgages upon which the tax has been paid under the statute, even though the statute was repealed prior to the time they actually completed the roll. This case was affirmed on the opinion below in 190 N. Y. 555 (1908).
Reports of corporations.- The president or other proper officer of every moneyed or stock corporation deriving an income or profit from its capital or otherwise, shall on or before June 15th, deliver to one of the assessors of the tax district in which the company is liable to be taxed, and if such tax district is in a county embracing a portion of the forest preserve, to the comptroller of the state, a written statement specifying:
1. The real property, if any, owned by such company, the tax district in which the same is situated, and, unless a railroad corporation, the sums actually paid therefor.
2. The capital stock actually paid in and secured to be paid in excepting therefrom the sums paid for real property and the amount of such capital stock held by the state and by any incorporated literary or charitable institution, and
3. The tax district in which the principal office of the company is situated or in case it has no principal office, the tax district in which its operations are carried on.
Such statement shall be verified by the officer making the same to the effect that it is in all respects just and true. If such statement is not made within twenty days after the fifteenth day of June, or is insufficient, evasive or defective, the assessors may compel the corporation to make a proper statement by mandamus. (Sec. 27, Tax Law.)
Source: R. S., pt. 1, ch. XIII, title 4, secs. 1-3. The date of making the report is changed from July 1 to June 15. What are corporations deriving an income or profit from their capital.- Section 27 of the Tax Law requires a report to be made by "every moneyed or stock corporation deriving an income or profit from its capital or otherwise.” The law will infer (in the absence of proof to the contrary) that capital invested in business yields an income, and that a domestic corporation is a “stock” corporation, so that the denial of these inferential allegations creates no triable issue. McLean, Receiver of Taxes v. Julien Electric Co., 28 Abb. N. C. 349 (1892); see, also, opinion of Attorney-General Hancock, filed January 9,
1897, holding that the term "corporation deriving an income or profit” applies to every moneyed or stock corporation organized for the purposes of acquiring income or profit, and does not apply to financial condition.
Corporation may be assessed in default of statement; such statement not controlling.--Corporations may be
be assessed though no statement is made by them to the assessors as required by law. Such a statement when made is not conclusive upon the assessors. It is the judgment of the assessors that the law requires. People ex rel. Manhattan Fire Ins. Co. v. Com’rs, 76 N. Y. 64 (1879). Assessors may be justified in assessing a corporation on its personal property instead of on its capital stock under sections 12 and 13, Tax Law, if it fail to deliver the written statement required by section 27, Tax Law (In re Adler Bros. Co., 76 App. Div. 571 (1902); aff’d 174 N. Y. 287), or they may in the absence of sworn testimony ascertain the value of the capital stock of a corporation from other sources, as they do in valuing real estate. People ex rel. Pacific Mail S. S. Co. v. Com’rs, 49 How. Pr. 315; 1 Thomp. & C. 611.
Valuation of secretary controlling in certain cases. The valuation of the capital stock made by the secretary of the company in the statement to the assessors, may be sufficient evidence of value upon which to base the assessment in the absence of other definite information. People ex rel. Buffalo Mutual Gas Light Co. v. Steele, 1 Buff. Supr. Ct. 345 (1873).
But while assessors are bound by proof produced before them as to value, they may exercise their judgment, notwithstanding such proof. People ex rel. Ogdensburg, etc. R. R. Co. v. Pond, 13 Abb. N. C. 1; aff’d'92 N. Y. 643.
Failure to file statement bars relief by certiorari for overvaluation where corporation omits to apply for correction of assessment. The commissioners of assessment have jurisdiction to assess a corporation that omits to make a statement of its