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sums, in dollars and cents, to be paid as a tax thereon, rejecting the fractions of a cent. They must also add up and set down the aggre. gate valuations of the real and personal property in the several boroughs as corrected by them; and must transmit to the comptroller of this state by mail a certificate of such aggregate valuations, showing separately the aggregate amount of the real and personal property in each borough, as corrected by the board of aldermen. (Sec. 910, Charter.)
Source: This section is, in substance, the same as sec. 832, Consol. Act (L. 1850, ch. 121, secs. 24-26; L. 1871, ch. 573, sec. 1).
Duty of board purely clerical.- When the assessment-rolls are delivered to the supervisors the data upon which taxes are to be computed is fixed by law, and the duty devolving upon the supervisors is purely clerical in its nature, and consists in computing the ratio of taxation and the sums chargeable to the respective taxpayers. Matter of Babcock, 115 N. Y. 450.
TAXPAYERS' REMEDIES; THE REVIEW AND CORRECTION OF AsSESSMENTS FOR LOCAL TAXATION; COMMON Law Writ
AND STATUTORY WRIT DISTINGUISHED.
Remedies prior to the law of 1880.-Prior to the adoption of Chapter 269, Laws of 1880, there was no procedure by which an excessive or disproportionate assessment might be reviewed and corrected.
Where assessors had acted without jurisdiction, illegally or fraudulently, a common law writ of certiorari lay to review their acts, but mere inequality or over-valuation was no ground for review, and in such cases the judgment of the assessors was deemed conclusive. Nor would common law certiorari lie after the assessment rolls had left the hands of the assessors. People ex rel. Raplee v. Reddy, 43 Barb. 539 (1865); People ex rel. Marsh v. Delaney, 49 N. Y. 655 (1872); People ex rel. Law v. Com’rs, 9 Hun, 609 (1877); People ex rel. Weeks v. Supervisors of Queens, 82 N. Y. 275 (1880).
The common law writ.—The common law writ of certiorari issued on special cause shown and not as a matter of right to review the determination of assessors, who, as quasi-judicial officers, acted as a special tribunal, and also to officers of municipal corporations in certain cases. People ex rel. Church v. Supervisors, 15 Wend. 198 (1836). The writ reviewed the record upon which the determination was founded and inquired into the legality of the proceedings and the jurisdiction of the assessing officers, to the end that if they acted illegally and without jurisdiction a final order might be entered annulling or vacating their determination. People ex rel. Griffin v. Mayor of Brooklyn, 4 N. Y. 419 (1851). While the Supreme Court still has inherent power to issue a common law writ (People ex rel. Powder Co. v. Feitner, 41 App. Div. 544, 1899), it is now well established that the statutory writ has superseded this proceeding.
The statutory writ.—The statutory writ applies where some express statute authorizes the remedy. The statute providing for the writ also specifies the cases when it may be granted, the court to whom, and time within which, application must be made, the relief to be granted, and frequently provides the procedure to be followed. A long line of cases settled the procedure, practice and limitations of the common law writ, and these where not expressly modified by statute, have, to a great extent, been followed in the practice governing the statutory writ.
By Chapter 269, Laws of 1880, a remedy was provided not only for illegal tax assessments, but also for inequality or overvaluation, and the action of assessors might now be reviewed in the Supreme Court. The provisions of Chapter 269, Laws of 1880, were incorporated in the General Tax Law without change of substance, forming sections 250 et seq. of the act (now Sec. 290 et seq. of the Tax Law).
In the city of New York, under the New York Consolidation Act, inequalities in the assessment of real estate were not reviewable by certiorari. This restriction of the grounds of review was sustained as constitutional. People ex rel. Second Ave. R. R. v. Coleman, 21 St. Rep. 178.
Distinction between the common-law writ, the statutory writ under the Code and the special statutory writ.- [By the “special statutory writ” is meant Chapter 269 of the Laws of 1880, now contained in the Tax Law (Section 290).]
The common-law writ limited the petitioner to questions of the assessors' jurisdiction and review of the procedure pursued by them; their decision upon values and appraisals was final. The Code writ of Certiorari may be issued (Section 2120) where it might have been issued at common law by a court of general jurisdiction, and where the right to the writ, or the power of the court to issue it, is not expressly taken away by statute and also (Section 2140) permits the following questions to be determined: As to the assessors' jurisdiction of the subject-matter; as to the exercise of the assessors' authority pursuant to law in reaching the determination; as to the violation of any rule of law affecting the petitioner's rights to his prejudice; as to the competency of proof of all the facts necessary to be established in making the determination; as to the preponderance of such proof, if any, against the existence of any of those facts, being sufficient to warrant a court in setting aside a verdict of a jury affirming the existence thereof as against the weight of evidence. The granting of the common-law writ is discretionary; People ex rel. Toms v. Supervisors, 199 N. Y. 150 (1910). This is also true of the Code writ; Section 2127 of the Code makes the granting of the writ discretionary. People ex rel. The Mayor v. McCarthy, 102 N. Y. 631 (1886), but this is qualified by other provisions making the granting of the writ a matter of right in certain cases. The statutory writ under Chapter 269, Laws of 1880, under the Tax Law and the New York Charter is a matter of right. Matter of Corwin, 135 N. Y. 245 (1892).
By Chapter 269 of the Laws of 1880 the powers of the courts in certiorari proceedings to review tax assessments were extended so as to permit of a review of the assessors' determination upon the ground of over-valuation or inequality if the petitioner showed injury thereby, and thus practically provided a de novo hearing. This law was embodied in the Tax Law of 1896, Chapter 908 (Art. XI, Sec. 250) and now found in Art. XIII of the Tax Law, Sec. 290 et seq. (Consolid. Laws, Chapter 60).
In People ex rel. Manhattan R. Co. v. Barker, 152 N. Y. 417 (430) the distinction between the various writs of certiorari is indicated by Judge Vann. He says:
"Thus we have a writ of certiorari with novel functions hitherto unknown to such methods of review. The common-law writ brings up the record for inquiry into jurisdiction and regularity and, in criminal or quasi-criminal cases, the evidence also, 'to see whether as a matter of law, there was any proof which could warrant a conviction of the relator. (People ew rel. C. G. L. Co. v. Board of 188088098, 39 N. Y. 81; People ex rel. Cook v. Board of Police, 39 N. Y. 506, 512, 518.) The general statutory writ brings up both record and proceedings for examination, not only as to jurisdiction and method of procedure, but also to see whether there was a violation of any rule of law, or any competent proof of all the essential facts, or a preponderance of proof against the existence of any of those facts. (Code Civ. Pro. Secs, 2120 to 2148; People ex rel. Coyle v. Martin, 142 N. Y. 352.) The special statutory writ now before us differs from its predecessors in one remarkable respect, in that it permits a re-determination of all questions of fact upon evidence, taken in part at least by the Special Term, or under its direction. (People ex rel. U. & D. R. R. Co. v. Smith, 24 Hun, 66, 71; People ex rel. Grace v. Gray, 45 Hun, 243, 245.)".
In Mercantile National Bank v. Mayor, etc. of New York, 172 N. Y. 35 (40), the distinction between the common-law writ and the code writ was again pointed out. In that case, Gray, J. says:
"I have grave doubt whether the common-law writ of certiorari would afford to the plaintiff an adequate remedy for the particular grievance assigned in its complaint, if the right to resort to it existed. The issuance of the writ was largely discretionary and its function was to bring up for review the record of the proceedings of tribunals, or boards, possessing a special, or limited jurisdiction, for inquiry, by the court into the questions whether the proceedings were with jurisdiction of the subject-matter and with regularity; that is to say,' with due regard to individual rights in matters affecting their persons, or property. Did they keep within the boundaries prescribed by the statute law, or by well-settled principles of the common law, would be the question presented. It was not until the passage of the general act of 1880 (Chap. 269, Laws of 1880), that tax-payers were afforded an effective remedy against illegal, or erroneous assessments by the writ of certiorari. Prior thereto, as the assessors were deemed to act judicially, the review of the courts was confined to questions of jurisdiction. (People ex rel. Citizens' G. L. Co. v. Board of A 88088088, 39 N. Y. 81, 88; People es rel. Cook v. Board of Police, Ib. 506; People est