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"The general laws of the State require all property, both real and personal, no matter by whom owned, except in certain cases of special exemption, to be assessed for purposes of taxation. This requirement embraces all property owned by individuals as well as corporations, and includes all shares of stock held by individuals in corporations, except in cases where the capital stock of such corporations is itself liable to taxation as against the corporation." Per Ruger, Ch. J., McMahon v. Palmer, 102 N. Y. 176 (1886); affirming 12 Daly, 362.
Decisions generally.- Bank of Utica v. City of Utica, 4 Paige, 401 (1834); Williamson v. Field, 2 Sandf. Ch. 552 (1845); Sun Mut. Ins. Co. v. Mayor of New York, 8 Barb. 435 (1850); New York & Harlem R. R. Co. v. Lyon, 16 id. 651 (1853); Trinity Church v. Mayer of New York, 10 How. Fr. 138 (1854); Ins. Cos. v. Commrs. of Taxes, 17 id. 208; S. C. as Int. Life Ass. Soc. v. Commrs. of Taxes, 28 Barb. 319 (1858); People ex rel. Hoyt v. Commrs. of Taxes, 23 N. Y. 225 (1861); 21 How. Pr. 385; People ex rel. Bank of Commerce v. Commrs. of Taxes and Assessments, 40 Barb. 335; reversed on another point in 2 Wall. 400 (1863); Brit. Com. Ins. Co. v. Commrs. of Taxes, 28 How. Pr. 57 (1864); S. C., 1 Abb. Ct. App. 202 (1864); S. C., 18 Abb. Pr. 118 (1864); People ex rel. Lincoln v. Assessors Town of Barton, 44 Barb. 153 (1865); S. C., 29 How. Pr. 372; Barhyte v. Shepherd & Vose, 35 N. Y, 239 (1866); Excise Commrs. Delaware Co. v. Sacrider, id. 154 (1866); People ex rel. Lockport City Bank v. Board Ed. Lockport, 46 Barb. 591 (1866); Foster v. Van Wyck, 41 How. Pr. 496 (1867); S. C., 2 Abb. Ct. App. 171 (1867); l'eople ex rel. Jefferson v. Gardiner, 51 Barb. 354 (1868); People ex rel. Erie R. R. Co. v. Beardsley, 52 id. 106 (1868); People v. Barker, 48 N. Y. 74 (1871); Clark v. Norton, 58 Barb. 436 (1871); Pacific S. S. Co. v. Commrs. of Taxes, 46 How. Pr. 313, 343 (1873); Barlow v. St. Nicholas National Bank, 63 N. Y. 401 (1875); People ex rel. Trowbridge v. Commrs., 4 Hun, 596 (1875); S. C., 62 N. Y. 630; Petition N. Y. Catholic Protectory, 77 id. 342 (1879); affirming 8 Hun, 91; People ex rel. N. Y. El. R. R. v. Commrs. of Taxes, etc., 19 id. 460 (1879); Matter Ulster Co. Savings Bank, 20 id. 481 (1880).
§ 4. Exemption from taxation.-The following property shall be exempt from taxation:
General Rules Concerning Exemptions.
A presumption that the legislature intended to surrender its right of taxation in the future by a present exemption therefrom, cannot be entertained unless such intention is clearly expressed. People ex rel. Cunningham v. Roper, 35 N. Y. 629 (1866).
An exemption from taxation must be described in clear and unambiguous language, and appear to be indisputably within the intention of the legislature. People ex rel. Westchester Fire Ins. Co. v. Davenport, 91 N. Y. 574 (1883).
An intent to exempt any property is not to be presumed. rel. Twenty-third Street R. R. Co. v. Commrs. of Taxes, 95 N. Y. 554 (1884).
Assessors have no authority to enter upon the assessment-roll the name of any person whose property is by law exempt from taxation, nor to impose an assessment thereon, and they are liable in damages if they do so. Prosser v. Secor, 5 Barb. 607 (1849).
An assessment of property exempt from taxation is void and the assessors are liable therefor to the party aggrieved. Lapolt v. Maltby, 10 Misc. 330; S. C., 64 N. Y. St. Repr. 311; 31 N. Y. Supp. 686 (1894).
The office of assessor in determining what property is subject to, and what is exempt from, taxation, is judicial, and the assessor is not liable in damages for errors committed in arriving at his conclusion. So held in a case where a minister of the gospel was not allowed exemption to the amount of $1,500. Barhyte v. Shepherd, 35 N. Y. 238 (1866).
Personal property of residents within their town or ward is within the jurisdiction of the assessors, who act judicially in determining what is exempt, and an assessment on such property, though clearly erroneous in overruling a claim of exemption, is not void, nor does it lay the foundation for an action at law against the assessors personally. Foster v. Van Wyck, 2 Abb. Ct. App. Dec. 167; 41 How. Pr. 493 (1867).
The exemption of the property of a corporation by special statute from "local taxation" includes taxation for county as well as city purposes. People ex rel. Pratt Institute v. Board of Assessors, 141 N. Y. 476; S. C., 57 N. Y. St. Repr. 612; reversing 74 Hun, 18; 57 N. Y. St. Repr. 263; 26N. Y. Supp. 155 (1894).
In determining whether a given case is within a clause in a statute exempting certain property or interests from taxation, the policy of the law in making the exemption must be considered and should have great weight. People ex rel. Elec. Manf. Co. v. Wemple, 129 N. Y. 543; S. C., 42 N. Y. St. Repr. 272.
When the legislature takes certain property for the purposes of taxation, out of an exemption clause by name, the question arises whether there is not a presumption in such case that it was within it before. Id. Followed, People ex rel. Roebling's Sons v. Wemple, 63 Hun, 452; S. C., 44 N. Y. St. Repr. 708; 18 N. Y. Supp. 504 (1892).
Statutes exempting property from taxation are to be strictly construed. Land Co. v. Minnesota, 159 U. S. 526 (1895).
Exemptions from taxation are regarded as in derogation of the sovereign and of the common right, and, therefore, not to be extended beyond the exact and express requirements of the language used, construed strictissimi juris. Yazoo, etc., R. R. Co. v. Thomas, 132 U. S. 174; Same v. Levee Commrs., id. 190.
Exemptions from taxation must be expressed in the clearest and most
unambiguous language, and not be left to implication or inference. Schurz v. Cook, 148 U. S. 397; Keokuk, etc., Co. v. Missouri, 152 id. 301.
The legislature itself cannot be held to have intended to surrender the taxing power, unless its intention to do so has been declared in clear and unmistakable words. R. R. Co. v. New Orleans, 143 U. S. 192; R. R. Co. v. Missouri, 120 id. 569.
Immunity from taxation is not in itself transferable. It must be considered as a personal privilege and not extending beyond the immediate grantce, unless otherwise expressly declared. Pickard v. R. R. Co., 130 U. S. 637.
The constitutional power to grant exemptions, wholly or partially, from taxation, and for fixed or indefinite periods, includes the power to exempt upon conditions or contingencies which are to happen in the future. Mobile, etc., R. R. Co. v. Tennessee, 153 U. S. 486.
1. Property of the United States.
[Revisers' Note.-R. S., pt. I, chap. 13, tit. I, § 4, subd. 2; 8th ed., 1083.]
A State has no right to tax property of the United States within fts limits. R. R. Co. v. Price Co., 133 U. S. 496.
Property of the United States is exempt from taxation by anthority of a State, though it be land lying within that State, and jurisdiction over it has not been ceded. Van Brocklin v. State of Tennessee, 117 U. S. 151 (1886).
The general rule of law is that property owned by a State or by the United States, or by a municipality for public use, is not subject to taxation except by express legislation. People ex rel. Mayor, etc., of New York v. Assessors of Brooklyn, 19 Abb. N. C. 158, Sp. T. (1887).
The cession of the State of Kansas to the United States of exclusive jurisdiction of certain lands, saving to such State the right of taxation therein, leaves the right of the State to subject property therein to taxation the same as before. Fort Leavenworth R. R. Co. v. Low, 114 U. S. 525 (1884).
There are numerous special acts exempting property acquired by the United States for light-houses, forts, arsenals, custom-houses, post-offices, etc., but as everything is comprehended in the foregoing subdivision, no reference is made to them.
2. Property of this state other than its wild or forest lands in the forest preserve.
[Bevisers' Note.- R. S., pt. I, chap. 13, tit. I, § 4, subd. 2; 8th ed., 1083.
See Fisheries, Game and Forest Law, § 274, as amended by L. 1895, chap. 395, providing for taxation of State lands in forest preserve.]
The words "wild or forest lands" were substituted for the words "real property of the State," these being the only lands of the State which are taxable.
3. Property of a municipal corporation of the state held for a public use, except the portion of such property not within the corporation.
[Revisers' Note.- R. S., pt. 1, chap. 13, tit. I, § 4, subds. 3, 4; 8th ed., 1083,
R. S., pt. I, chap. 20, tit. I, § 72; 8th ed., 2120.
The term municipal corporation is defined by the General Corporation Law, § 3, as including "a county, town, school district, village and city and any other territorial division of the State established by law with powers of local government." This subdivision is intended to include the exemptions of the property of municipal corporations made by R. S., pt. 1, chap. 13, tit. I, § 4. subds. 3, 4, which are as follows: "Every schoolhouse, courthouse and jail used for either of such purposes; and the several lots whereon such buildings are situated and the furniture belonging to each of them, and every poorhouse, almshouse, house of industry, and the real and personal property used for such purposes belonging to or connected with the same. The subdivision is further extended to include all the property of a municipal corporation in accordance with the decisions of the courts, that such property is not taxable, See City of Rochester v. Town of Rush, 80 N. Y. 302, holding that municipal water-works are not taxable. See, also, The People, ex rel. Murphy, v. Kelly, 76 N. Y. 479, 486-89, as to what constitutes a municipal purpose generally.] The last clause of the subdivision excepting "property not within the corporation" was added by the committee. This, by its terms, would operate to tax water-works property of a municipality, which is located without the corporate limits, as, for instance, the Croton system in Putnam and Westchester counties.
For cases referring to taxation of lands owned by municipality, see 14 Alb. L. J. 388.
Property of a municipality, acquired and held for governmental and public uses, and used for public purposes, is not a taxable subject within the purview of the tax laws, unless specially included. People v. Assessors, 111 N. Y. 505. This exemption applies regardless of how such property was acquired or where it was located. Id. The fact that city of New York operates a ferry through lessees and derives profit from the rental, and not by its own operation of the ferry, did not make the franchise of the land taxable. Id.
4. The lands in any Indian reservation owned by the Indian nation, tribe or band occupying them.
[Revisers' Note.- Indian L., § 6 (L. 1892, chap. 679); R. S., 8th ed., supp., 3743.] See People ex rel. Erie R. R. Co. v. Beardsley, 52 Barb. 105; affirmed, 41 N. Y. 619.
5. All property exempt by law from execution, other than an exempt homestead.
[Revisers' Note.-R. S., pt. I, chap. 13, tit. 1, § 4, subd. 9; 8th od., 1083 Code of Civil Procedure, § 1397.]
The words "other than an exempt homestead" added to conform to section 1397 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The provisions of law, exempting certain property from execution, and therefore, from taxation, are the following, taken from the Code of Civil Procedure:
"§ 1389. The enumeration, in this article, of the property which is exempt from levy and sale by virtue of an execution, does not repeal any special provision of law, relating to such an exemption, which, by its terms, is applicable only to a particular class of persons or corporations, or to a particular locality, or otherwise to a special case."
"§ 1390. The following personal property, when owned by a householder: "
A householder is the head, master or person who has charge of and provides for a family. A person who rents a house and keeps boarders is a householder. Hutchinson v. Chamberlain, 11 N. Y. Leg. Obs. 247 (1853); Van Vechten v. Hall, 14 How. Pr. 436 (1857). See, also, Chamberlain v. Darrow, 46 Hun, 48, 51.
When a husband has left the State, leaving his wife and child, the wife will be deemed a householder. Nor does a householder lose such character by storing his goods temporarily. Woodward v. Murray, 18 Johns. 400 (1820); Griffin v. Sutherland, 14 Barb. 456 (1852). See, also, Bowne v. Witt, 19 Wend. 475 (1838); Brigham v. Bush, 33 Barb. 596 (1861); Matter of Winans, 5 Dem. 138 (1887).
"Is exempt from levy and sale by virtue of an execution; and each movable article thereof continues to be so exempt, while the family, or any of them, are removing from one residence to another:
"1. All spinning wheels, weaving looms, and stoves, put up, or kept for use in a dwelling-house; and one sewing machine with its appurtenances.
"2. The family Bible, family pictures and school-books, used by or in the family; and other books not exceeding in value fifty dollars, kept and used as part of the family library."
Robinson's Case, 3 Abb. Pr. 466 (1856).
"3. A seat or pew occupied by the judgment debtor, or the family in a place of public worship.
"1. Tea sheep, with their fleeces, and the yarn or cloth manufactured therefrom; one cow; two swine; the necessary food for