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itself to devising a system by which the work could be done promptly. This has been accomplished. The clerical work of the department is on a current basis. Department rules and regulations have stimulated the efficiency of the clerical force. During the year, 34,200 special franchise valuations have been certified; 1,500 lists of tentative and full equalized valuations, containing about 15,000 different amounts, with full and minute details of the values, have been sent to mayors of cities, to supervisors and to village presidents. This work, formerly done by special agents called into the office from the field, has this year been done by the regular office force, and was finished two weeks earlier than usual, though the work was begun seven weeks later than formerly. An adequate filing system has been installed for the intelligent filing of reports, records and correspondence, and for the care of blanks and department supplies. Officers and employees have been impressed with the importance of strict attention to their duties, and a spirit of interest and co-operation prevails throughout.

LAW DIVISION ADMINISTRATION The Law Division is charged with the preparation of all litigated matters prosecuted for the department by the AttorneyGeneral; legal advice to local tax officials of the state; advice and conference with the Commission and with the heads of the several bureaus of the department on all legal questions; examination of bills introduced in the Legislature; drafting of amendments to the law; preparation of memoranda for the Governor in relation to tax legislation; and the preparation of cases involving the review of local assessments, and county equalization by boards of supervisors.

GENERAL LITIGATION About the time this Commission took office, the Court of Appeals handed down its decision in the Matter of the People ex rel. Town of Hempstead and Hiram R. Smith, as supervisor of the Town of Ilempstead v. State Board of Tax Commissioners, and Town of Oyster Bay and Town of North Hempstead, 214 N. Y. 594. Under this proceeding there was subject to review on the appeal of the town of Hempstead from the equalization made by the board of supervisors of Nassau county in 1911. The court ordered the determination of the State Board of Tax Commissioners, dated June 26, 1913, reversed and set aside, and that the proceeding be remitted to the State Tax Commission for a new and further hearing on the merits. This matter was reheard and determined by the present Commission.

On November 16, 1915, the town of Oyster Bay, Nassau county, and on November 18, 1915, the town of North Hempstead, Nassau county, brought separate certiorari proceedings to review the determination of the State Tax Commission in (the said reheard) appeal of the Town of Hempstead v. Nassau County, for the years 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914 (eight proceedings in all) in which the question was raised as to whom the money should be paid under the order of the Tax Commission. On November 29, 1915, an order was granted by the Appellate Division quashing the writs and dismissing the proceedings for 1911 to the effect that the moneys should be credited to the town of Hempstead on account of the state and county taxes to be levied against the town of Hempstead in the tax levy of 1915.

SPECIAL FRANCHISE LITIGATION On April 19, 1915, the date on which this Commission assumed office, there were pending 1,537 certiorari proceedings to review special franchise valuations. Since that date six proceedings have been instituted involving village valuations for the year 1914, and 64 proceedings involving valuations for the year 1915, making a total of 1,610 proceedings.

Through the co-operative efforts of the Commission and the Attorney-General 326 cases have been disposed of, as follows:

87 74

Reductions.
Equalization cases prior to 1912....
Equalization cases since 1912...
Prior right of occupancy and equalization.
Discontinued...

2 91 72

leaving 1,284 cases in the hands of the Attorney-General in various stages of litigation. The department has been advised by the Attorney-General that approximately 100 more of these cases will be disposed of by January 1916.

In this work the Commission considered propositions of settlement submitted by the Attorney-General in 417 cases, all of which have been disposed of either by rejection, acceptance or the submission of counter propositions.

Returns to writs were made in sixty-three cases and in eleven cases memoranda for further returns were prepared.

A new form of return has been prepared for use in general litigation and a special form has been prepared for railroad cases.

MORTGAGE Tax When the Commission took office there were 10 cases pending, as follows:

Collection cases

5 Proceedings to review determination of State Board.

4 Proceedings to determine supplemental mortgage...

1 Since that date 3 proceedings have been commenced, 2 of which seek to review the determination of this Commission and one a writ of mandamus to compel a recording officer to file an alleged deed without the payment of the mortgage tax, said instrument being deemed by this Commission to be a mortgage.

Six cases have been transmitted to the Attorney-General to enforce collection of the mortgage tax.

CORPORATION TAX

cases

When the Commission took office there were 14 pending to recover corporation taxes.

Since that date 1 proceeding has been commenced to review the determination of the Commission and ✓ of the 14 cases above mentioned have been abandoned on the advice of the Attorney-General that the tax is uncollectible.

LOCAL ASSESSMENTS

A proceeding has been commenced in the nature of a complaint filed by the towns of Cambria, Hartland, Newfane, Porter, Lewisthe equalization made by the board of supervisors of said county on the 7th day of December, 1915, was, and is, illegal, erroneous and unjust. The Commission ordered a review of said equalization under the provisions of section 176-a of the Tax Law and the first hearing was held at Lockport on December 17, 1915.

Under date of December 27, 1915, an appeal was filed on behalf of the town of Hancock, Delaware county, under section 175 of the Tax Law, from the act or decision of the board of supervisors and the commissioners of equalization in the equalization of assessments and the correction of the assessment-rolls of said county as made at the November session of said Board.

GENERAL New language describing special franchise property has been prepared and adopted by the Commission. It is more complete and concise than that previously used and will meet possible legal or technical objections.

The Commission has prepared a proposed revision of Articles I, II, III, IV, VIII, XI and XIII of the Tax Law, from the standpoint of better administration and the elimination of obsolete and ambiguous terms and repetition. These changes with accompanying memoranda are made a part of this report.

IMPORTANT COURT DECISIONS

Highway Bridges A structure erected for the purpose of eliminating a grade crossing, to the cost of which the railroad company is compelle to contribute under the Railroad Law, is not special franchise property for the reason that such structure forms part of the public street the grade of which has been changed, and the railroad company has no control over the same.

People ex rel. N. Y., Ontario & Western Ry. Co. v.

State Board of Tax Commissioners, 215 N. Y. 434.

Highway Bridges over Railroads The ownership of bridges located on and over land owned by a city in fee and carrying streets over a railroad's right of way, is in the city, though the larger portion of the expensc of the construction is met by the railroad, where the bridges form an essential part of the city's street system, and the operation of the railroad would in no way be impaired by their removal by the city.

People ex rel. N. Y. C. & H. R. R. Co. v. Purdy,

215 N. Y. 728.

Franchises —Railroads A special right given to a railroad company by the act incorporating it, to locate its railroad across highways and water courses, is a special franchise, because it confers authority to cross navigable streams, and therefore two of its bridges spanning such streams are assessable in determining the amount of its special franchise, although the abutments of one of them rests on land which it owns in fee and the other bridge is constructed wholly within the boundaries of a patent to the railroad company from the state to the fee in the bed of the stream crossed.

People ex rel. Harlem River & Port Chester R. R.

Co. v. State Board of Tax Commissioners, 215

N. Y. 507.
County Equalization Appeal - Review of Determination of

Commission
Authority to direct final judgment on reviewing the determina-
tion of the State Board of Tax Commissioners is not given to the
Appellate Division, but when it finds that there is such a pre-
ponderance of proof against the existence of the facts upon which
the Board made its determination, it should send the

should send the proceeding back to the Board for a new and further hearing.

People ex rel. Town of Hempstead and Hiram R.

Smith, as supervisor of the Town of Hempstead v.
State Board of Tax Commissioners, and Town of
Oyster Bay and Town of North Hempstead, 214
N. Y. 594.

Deeds of Trust - Mortgages
A deed executed as security for the repayment of money to be
advanced is a mortgage and subject to the mortgage tax.

People v. Park Row Realty Company (Gass), 216

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