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amounts thereof, the assessors should disregard his evidence. Vose v. Willard, 47 Barb. 320 (1866).
The evidence produced by the owner seeking to correct an assessment, if uncontradicted, must control. People ex rel. Amer. Linen Thread Co. v. Howland, 61 Barb. 273 (1871). See People ex rel. W. R. R. Co. v. Barker, 48 N. Y. 70, below.
Assessors are not concluded by affidavit as to valuation, unless the evidence for the applicant is the only evidence before them. Where this is the case, however, they must assume the matters sworn to to be true, and correct the roll accordingly. People ex rel. Oswego Canal Co. v. City of Oswego, 5 Hun, 117 (1875). See, also, 6 Thomp. & C. 673.
Where a sinking fund was assessed at $500,000, and the trustees made affidavit that its amount did not exceed the amount of the debt it was created to pay by more than $5,000,- held, in the absence of other evidence, that the assessment should be reduced to the lower sum.
Where the relators had asked the assessors to relieve them from an assessment entirely, whereas it appeared that they were entitled to a reduction only,- held, that the reduction should have been granted, though costs should not be imposed on the assessors on reviewing their proceedings denying the application, since it had not asked for the reduction merely. People ex rel. Western R. R. Co. v. Assessors of Albany, 40 N. Y. 154 (1869).
Where an affidavit in support of an application for relief from an assessment is considered by the assessors on the merits, an objection that it is informal, or insufficient proof of the facts alleged, not made at the time it was presented, will not be available to them on certiorari to review their proceedings. Id.
The affidavit by an owner of property seeking a reduction of the assessment thereon is, since Laws 1851, chap. 176, not conclusive evidence of value, but it is to be considered by the assessors with such other information as they possess. People ex rel. Buffalo & State Line R. R. Co. v. Barker, 48 N. Y. 70 (1871).
In order to authorize a reduction of the assessors' valuation of the personal property of a corporation it must be made to appear that it exceeded the value of all the personal property after deducting the debts. People ex rel. Parsons Mfg. Co. v. Moore, 11 N. Y. St. Repr. 859 (1887).
In passing upon an application for a reduction of an assessment for personalty, the assessors act judicially and should be governed by the evidence, though they may exercise their knowledge and judgment where the value is to be ascertained upon an assumed basis of estimate. People ex rel. Green v. Hall, 83 Hun, 375; S. C., 64 N. Y. St. Repr. 752; 31 N. Y. Supp. 956 (1894).
A relator seeking to obtain a reduction of her personal assessment refused to answer concerning the disposition of personal property formerly owned by her when questioned by the assessors. The inquiry being justifiable to enable them to judge of the present amount of her personalty,
a refusal by them to reduce the assessment would not afford ground for review on certiorari. Id.
Reduction of assessment of personal property for inequality sustained. Matter of Corwin, 135 N. Y. 245; S. C., 48 N. Y. St. Repr. 248 (1892). In proceedings to reduce an assessment, the burden of showing overvaluation is on the owner. People ex rel. Fargo v. Murphy, 32 N. Y. St. Repr. 780; S. C., 10 N. Y. Supp. 377 (1890).
A railroad corporation failing to appear on grievance day and have the assessment corrected, loses its remedy to review the assessment by certiorari, and such failure is not excused by the fact that it relied on unofficial information that the assessment would be the same as in the preceding year. People v. Adams, 125 N. Y. 471; S. C., 36 N. Y. St. Repr. 166 (1891); People v. Dolan, 126 N. Y. 166; S. C., 37 N. Y. St. Repr. 28; affirming 11 N. Y. Supp. 35 (1891).
A statement rendered in behalf of a corporation upon an application to set aside its assessments which shows its debts exceed in amount the assessed value of its real estate and the value of its personal property, is not conclusive upon the commissioners, where no statement is made as to the actual value of the real property, and it appears that large dividends have been earned and paid, and a reference to former statements and assessments justify the conclusion reached by the commissioners. People ex rel. Equitable Gas-Light Co. v. Barker, 144 N. Y. 94; S. C., 63 N. Y. St. Repr. 33; reversing 81 Hun, 22; S. C., 62 N. Y. St. Repr. 563; 30 N. Y. Supp. 586 (1894).
Where a corporation presents evidence to the taxing officers as to the value of its assets, so full and complete as to establish the facts upon which its claim for reduction rests, and it is not contradicted by facts within their knowledge, and no good reason exists for questioning its truth, refusal to decide in accordance with such evidence is legal error. People ex rel. German, etc., Co. v. Barker, 75 Hun, 6; S. C., 57 N. Y. St. Repr. 1; 26 N. Y. Supp. 971 (1894).
Assessors have the right to correct an assessment (except to increase an estimate of property after the roll has been deposited with one of their number for inspection) at any time before the roll is delivered to the supervisor. People ex rel. Lorillard v. Supervisors of Westchester, 15 Barb. 607 (1853).
A verbal application to assessors to reduce the assessment made on a day appointed for a hearing for grievances and considered without objection and acted upon by the board,- held, a sufficient application, if one was necessary, before bringing proceedings by certiorari to review the assessment. People ex rel. Eckerson v. Christie, 115 N. Y. 158 (1889).
The omission of a person claiming to be a nonresident of the town to appear before the assessors and object to an assessment of his personal property will not deprive him of the right to review the action of the assessors by certiorari. People ex rel. Paddock v. Lewis, 55 Hun, 521; S. C., 29 N. Y. St. Repr. 606 (1890). See Mygatt v. Washburn, 15 N. Y.
319 (1857); Clark v. Norton, 49 id. 247 (1872); Westfall v. Preston, id. 354 (1872). This last case was followed in Kane v. City of Brooklyn, 15 N. Y. St. Repr. 872 (1888), G. T.; People ex rel. Buffalo R. R. v. Fredericks, 48 Barb. 176 (1866); Clark v. Norton, 49 N. Y. 247 (1872). See Livingston v. Hollenbeck, 4 Barb. 9 (1847).
§ 37. Correction and verification of tax-roll.-When the assessors, or a majority of them, shall have completed their roll, they shall severally appear before any officer 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 estat situated in the tax district in which we are assessors, 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 otherwise 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.
[Revisers' Note.- L. 1851. chap. 176, § 8; R. S., 8th ed., 1100,
without change of substance, except that the provision of section 8, that a false oath is perjury, is omitted as being fully covered by section 96 of the Penal Code.]
See Form, No. 11.
The act of 1851 required the assessors to swear that the real estate and personalty were assessed at the full and true value thereof, and added as to realty "at which they would appraise the same in payment of a just debt due from a solvent debtor." Laws 1885, chap. 201, struck these latter words from the section, and also the requirement that the oath should state that property was assessed at its true value. In considering the authorities prior to 1885, it will be necessary to bear in mind the amendment of 1885.
In Parish v. Golden, 35 N. Y. 462 (1886), it was held that the omission from the affidavit annexed to the assessment-roll that it contains a true
statement of the aggregate of the taxable personal estate excluding such stocks as are otherwise taxable, of the words "and such other property as is exempt by law from taxation," was not a jurisdictional defect. The opinion of the court in Brevoort v. City of Brooklyn, 89 N. Y. 128, limits the effect of the decision in the former case to the particular defect there passed upon.
A substantial compliance of the affidavit of assessors with the statute is sufficient. Buffalo & State Line R. R. Co. v. Supervisors of Erie, 48 N. Y. 93 (1871).
Where, to show the invalidity of a sale for taxes, the defendant had produced at the trial what purported to be assessment-rolls, which were in the handwriting of one of the assessors, and were found with other assessment-rolls in the town clerk's former office, and neither they nor the copies in the collector's hands had the affidavit prescribed by law attached, the court directed a verdict for the defendant on the ground that the rolls produced were the originals, and were defective in lacking the affidavit. Held, that such direction should be sustained. Johnson v. Elwood, 53 N. Y. 431 (1873).
In an action by a taxpayer against a supervisor and a tax collector for wrongfully taking from the plaintiff the amount of a tax claimed to be illegally assessed, Reynolds, commissioner, in an opinion separate from that of the other judges, but arriving at the same disposition of the case, held that an assessment-roll not verified by one of the assessors, and not accompanied by a certificate of the other assessors stating the cause of the omission, as provided for by 1 R. S. 394, $ 30, was defective and invalid, since the provisions of a statute by which a public officer may condemn property must be strictly observed. Bellinger v. Gray, 51 N. Y. 610 (1873).
Omission of venue to assessors' verification,- held immaterial, since it is not an affidavit, but an oath in a prescribed form. Though it did not appear that the justice before whom it was sworn was a justice of the town, held, that in the absence of proof to the contrary, it would be presumed that he was. Colman v. Shattuck, 62 N. Y. 348 (1875); affirming 2 Hun, 497; 5 Thomp. & C. 34.
The oath of assessors on one side of the roll, under the entry of assessments on residents,- held to cover the assessment of nonresident lands on the other side of the leaf, in the absence of proof that when sworn to the roll did not contain the latter entries. Id.
Where only two of the assessors verified the roll, and no certificate was attached stating the cause of omission of the third,- held, that, as such certificate was not part of the official's oath, nor a necessary part of the roll, and two assessors had power to act, the validity of the roll was not impaired. Id.; and distinguishing Bellinger v. Gray, 51 N. Y. 610.
An oath, "we have estimated the value of the said real estate at the sums which a majority of the assessors have decided to be the fair proportionate value thereof, and at which, in the same ratio, they would
appraise the same in payment of a just debt due from a solvent debtor,"— held to be fatally defective. Beach v. Hayes, 58 How. Pr. 17 (1879).
An affidavit of assessors to their roll stated that they had estimated the real estate "at the assessed value thereof" instead of "the full and true value thereof," and that the roll contained a true statement of the personal property, "according to our best knowledge and belief" instead of "judgment and belief." Held, that the affidavit was fatally defective, and any tax levied upon the roll was void. Hinckley v. Cooper, 22 Hun, 253 (1880).
Where the assessment-roll was not signed by the assessors at the end of the valuation of the property, but the certificate required by statute (1 R. S., 3d ed., 447, § 26) was written upon the roll and signed by the assessors, held, that such signing satisfied the statute. Chamberlain v. Taylor, 36 Hun, 24 (1885).
The certificate of the assessors stated that they had estimated the value of the real estate at a sum at which they would appraise the same in payment of a just debt due from a solvent "creditor." Held, that the substitution of "creditor" for " debtor," as it appeared in the copy, did not vitiate the assessment. Id.
The certificate of the assessors required by the statute (1 R. S. 393, § 26, repealed by Laws 1851, chap. 176) is essential to the validity of the assessment, and must be made in substantial compliance with the terms of the law. Van Rensselaer v. Witbeck, 7 N. Y. 517 (1852); reversing 7 Barb. 133 (1849). This case was distinguished and modified in Parish v. Golden, 35 N. Y. 462 (1866). See, also, Ensign v. Barse, 107 N. Y. 339 (1887).
The provisions of Laws 1885, chap. 201 (which amends Laws 1851, chap. 176, § 8), do not direct the assessors' oath to be taken at any specified date, but only that it shall be taken after they have completed their roll. Held, that an affidavit made before the roll had passed under the action of the board of supervisors, though after it was in the hands of the town supervisor, was not irregular, and sufficed to cure any defects in a former affidavit made directly after the completion of the roll. Rome, Watertown, etc., R. R. Co. v. Smith, 39 Hun, 332 (1886); affirmed in 101 N. Y. 684.
The affidavit of the assessors was made in the form prescribed in Laws 1851, chap. 176, § 8, instead of that in Laws 1885, chap. 201. Held, that as the earlier form contained all that was required by the later one, the addition of the statement that they assessed the property at the value at which they would appraise it in the payment of a just debt due from a solvent debtor, and the use of the words "full and true value," instead of the words "full value," did not invalidate the affidavit. Rome, Watertown, etc., R. R. Co. v. Smith, 39 Hun, 332 (1886); affirmed without passing on the sufficiency of these affidavits in 101 N. Y. 684.
Affidavit in form prescribed by Laws 1851, not defective, but if so,