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ALBANY, N. Y., January 10, 1917. To the Legislature of the State of New York:
The State Tax Commission submits to the Legislature the report of the State Tax Department for the year 1916:
Since the last report of this commission, which was presented to the Legislature January 5, 1916, notable progress in tax matters has been made in this state. The Corporation Tax Bureau of the State Tax Department through its work has turned into the state treasury $12,280,042.67 of corporation taxes for the old fiscal year ending September 30, 1916. This is a gain of $1,044,078.56 over the receipts of the fiscal year ending September 30, 1915. The total amount of corporation taxes collected for the old fiscal year of 1916 exceeds that of the year 1914, which was the best in the history of the state, by $646,041.83.
The Special Franchise Tax Bureau of the State Tax Department shows an increase in the assessment of the special franchises of public service corporations of $68,576,477 for the year 1916 over the year 1915.
The 1916 annual report of the New York City Tax Department shows that the net increase in the assessed value of real estate in the city of New York for 1916 is approximately $99,000,000. Of this net increase over $45,000,000 represents the increased assessed value of special franchises assessed by the State Tax Commission.
Aside from the special franchise assessment increase, the State Tax Commission through advice and information furnished to the New York City department, enabled that department to increase the assessed value of real estate other than special franchises, approximately $13,000,000. Hence, of the total increased real estate assessment amounting to $99,000,000, approximately $58,000,000 or nearly sixty per cent of the total increase was due to the work of the State Tax Commission.
As evidence of this fact, the 1916 annual report of the New York City Tax Department states: “ This department has cooperated with the State Tax Commission to insure the fair assessment of special franchises by the State Tax Commission and of other property of public service corporations by the New York department. Special franchise assessment was increased $45,379,592 and the increase of other property of public service corporations was $12,933,470. As the result of this co-operation not only was a net increase obtained but various assessments were reduced and the assessment as held was more equitable than in the past. The hearty co-operation of the State Tax Commission with this department and its efficient organization, are exceedingly helpful to this city and the whole state”.
Marked improvement in mortgage tax administration has been manifested since the reorganization effected by this commission. When this commission took office seventeen mortgages covering property within and without the state were awaiting determination and apportionment. The aggregate amount of the indebtedness secured by these mortgages was $149,999,900. On this indebtedness, an aggregate tax of $131,540.95 had been paid, all of which was being held back from the state and the various localities to which it was due by the respective recording officers who were awaiting its determination and apportionment. All these mortgages were determined and apportioned within one year from the time when the present commission took office in April, 1915. Between January 1 and December 31, 1916, the record of mortgage tax apportionments is as follows: Number of cases disposed of....
960 Amount distributed ..
$296,769.04 During the calendar year 1916 delinquent mortgage taxes and penalties were collected to the amount of $22,766.74. The total amount appropriated for the expenses of the mortgage tax bureau for the same length of time was $27,500, so that the bureau came within $4,733.26 of paying its entire expenses from delinquent taxes alone. If the statute of limitations had not been in operation against these taxes and penalties the receipts would have more than equalled the appropriation for the maintenance of the bureau for the entire year.
ASSESSMENTS AND EXEMPTIONS The total assessed value of property within the state for the year 1916 is as follows: Real property (inclusive of equalized special franchise property)
$11,605,69 1,898 Equalized special franchise property
$560,731,299 Personal property (other than bank stock)..... 485,712,745
Making a total real and personal property
The increase in the assessed value of real prop
erty (inclusive of equalized special franchise
property) over the year 1915 is. Increase in equalized special fran
chise property over the year 1915 ...
$57,658,154 The increase in the assessed value of personal
property (other than bank stock) over the year
value of real and personal property over
Down to 1915 when the present Tax Commission came into office the personal property assessments of the State, outside of New York city, dropped annually until 1914 when they were down to $97,957,416. In 1915 they were increased to $102,938,242, and last year reached $109,212,595, a gain of $6.274,353.
REAL PROPERTY EXEMPT FROM TAXATION Total assessed value of real property exempt
from taxation as reported to this department under section 15 of the tax law, is as follows: For the year 1916.
$2,606,595,302 For the year 1915.
Increase 1916 over 1915..
The above facts and statistics are submitted in vindication of the policy laid down by this commission at the beginning of this administration. That policy was to work for the utmost possible co-operation between the State Tax Department and the local assessors and supervisors of the state. An increase of the assessed valuation of real and personal property in the state of $300,808,840 in one year is striking evidence of the fact that such cooperation in the tax work of this state is well established. It is the purpose of the present commission to continue to develop this team work in taxation. The New York State Tax Department as at present organized is a smooth efficient working tax machine, and the number of local tax officers who have earnestly and actively co-operated with the tax department in the effort to improve taxation conditions is one of the most encouraging indications that like achievements in the future will be more marked than those already recorded.
At the close of the report will be found a table giving in some detail the values of real property in this state which is exempt from taxation. This table shows that in the state during the year there was a net increase in the value of property exempt from taxation of $96,451,488. The table also shows that there has been an average increase in the values of exempt property of $116,162,204 during each year of the last five years, making a total increase during the last five years of $580,811,018.
During the year 1916 the commission developed an efficiency rating system, which was put into effect on the first of January, 1917. By this system it is expected that employees will be rated according to their several abilities and merits. It is expected that the fair and impartial application of the system will prove a potential motive for good work to all the members of the department subject to its provisions.
Bearing in mind that the local assessor is an elected official, and that he may or may not possess the knowledge and experience necessary to administer the tax law, the tax commission realized the necessity of bringing home to local boards the proper practice of their office under the laws. Primarily for the benefit of the local assessor the New York State Tax Bulletin was instituted. Five numbers of the bulletin were issued during the year, and all