Appeals of Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., No. 10852

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtRENTTO; HANSON; WINANS; HANSON
PartiesAppeals of the CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY from its assessments for the years 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968.
Decision Date16 June 1971
Docket NumberNo. 10852

Page 276

188 N.W.2d 276
85 S.D. 613
Appeals of the CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY
from its assessments for the years 1964, 1965,
1966, 1967 and 1968.
No. 10852.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
June 16, 1971.
Rehearing Denied July 27, 1971.

[85 S.D. 614] M. T. Woods, Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, Sioux Falls, for Chicago and N.W. Ry. Co., respondent.

Gordon Mydland, Atty. Gen., John Dewell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, for the State, appellant.

RENTTO, Presiding Judge.

The litigation reported in Chicago and North Western Railway Company v. Gillis, 82 S.D. 470, 148 N.W.2d 581 and 83 S.D. 332, 159 N.W.2d 293, was concerned with the assessment for tax purposes of the railway's operating property in South Dakota as made by the commissioner of revenue. This proceeding presents only the issue of equalizing the taxable value of such property as fixed and reported by the department of revenue with the taxable value of real and personal property owned by others and locally assessed.

[85 S.D. 615] For the year 1964 the commissioner of revenue determined that the full and true value of the railway's operating property in South Dakota was $8,976,617. Giving effect to Ch. 459, Laws of 1957, now SDCL 10--6--33, which provides that: 'only sixty per cent of such assessed value shall be taken and considered as the taxable value of such property upon which the levy shall be made and applied and the taxes computed' he determined that its taxable value was $5,385,970. From such decision the railway appealed to the state board of equalization. That board lowered his determination

Page 277

of the full and true value of the property, but determined its taxable value by applying the same 60% Factor.

This decision the railway appealed to the circuit court. It claimed that such valuation discriminated against it and in favor of other taxpayers whose property was assessed locally because the taxable value of their property was determined by applying a factor smaller than the statutorily prescribed 60%. The matter was presented to the trial court on a voluminous and detailed stipulation of facts supplemented by additional evidence which was cumulative to the facts covered by the stipulation. While the appeal which is the basis of this controversy involved only the railway's taxes for the year 1964, appeals similar in form and content for the years 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968 were timely filed in each of those years, but held in abeyance. The stipulation consolidates all of them in this proceeding for the purposes of trial and appeal.

The department of revenue pursuant to directives of the commissioner had made detailed studies and reports covering the relation of assessed values of real estate to sales or market values thereof in all of the counties of the state. See Ch. 477, Laws of 1957. These reports each cover a calendar year and are titled 'Real Estate Taxable Assessment--Sales Ratio Study'. Official copies of such studies for the years 1958 to 1968, both inclusive, are a part of the stipulation. The parties stipulated that said studies are accurate and fairly reflect the levels of real property assessment in the state for the years involved. It is manifest from them that as to the real property studied the taxable value has [85 S.D. 616] been consistently less than the statutory 60% Of assessed value, the deviations therefrom varying widely from county to county. As to the average assessment ratio of personal property in each of the counties the parties agreed that it was 60% Of the true and full value.

In their stipulation the parties agreed on the full and true value of the railway's operating property for the years in question and that its taxable value was arrived at by applying the 60% Factor thereto. They further agreed that if such equalization was to be made by using a factor other than the statutory 60% On a state average basis, then the statewide averages of the assessed value of other real and personal property for the years involved are: 1964--45.1%, 1965--44.9%, 1966--44.7%, 1967--43.5%, 1968--43.1%.

They also agreed that if the equalization was to be accomplished on the property in question separately in each of the counties where it was located then the ratios of assessed value of real and personal property in each of such counties to the true and full value are those contained in column 9 of Exhibits B, C, D, E and F for the years in question. As to the real estate, each of these exhibits listed in separate columns for each year involved the total assessed value, weighted average assessment ratio, and total true and full value for each of the organized counties in the state. The same was done as to personal property except that the assessment ratio was the statutory and stipulated 60%. In the same manner as to combined real and personal property, they listed the assessed value, true and full value and weighted average assessment ratio in each county. This latter is the column 9 referred to in their stipulation.

The trial court concluded that in the described circumstances it was improper to arrive at the taxable value of the railway's operating property by taking 60% Of its true and full value. It held that the equalization was to be done on a county by county basis. To accomplish this it ordered the department of revenue to reduce the taxable value of the railway's operating property in each of the counties where it operated to the same proportion of full and true value [85 S.D. 617] as that applied to other real and personal property therein as shown by

Page 278

the exhibits. These results were then to be certified to the proper officials of the counties, cities and towns involved who would correct their records and adjust the railway's taxes accordingly for the years in dispute. From a judgment to this effect the state appeals.

To support its contention that the state board of equalization acted properly in determining that the taxable value of such property was 60% Of its full and true value the state relies on Section 2 of Art. XI of our Constitution. That provision so far as here relevant states:

'To the end that the burden of taxation may be equitable upon all property, and in order that no property which is made subject to taxation shall escape, the Legislature is empowered to divide all property including moneys and credits as well as physical property into classes and to determine what class or classes of property shall be subject to taxation and what property, if any, shall not be subject to taxation. Taxes shall be uniform on all property of the same class, and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only.'

The state urges that under this authority the legislature has put railway operating property in a separate class and points out that the taxable value of all property in that class was determined by using the 60% Factor. The portion of such article which authorized the division of property into classes and required that taxes be uniform on all property of the same class was proposed as an amendment by Ch. 161, Laws of 1917 and approved at the general election held in November of 1918. Before this change constitutional uniformity as to the substantive tax burden was required as to all property.

From this basis the state proceeds to claim that by the provision of SDC 1939, Ch. 57.13, now SDCL 10--28, the legislature designated railroad operating property as a separate class of property for the purpose of taxation permitting it to be taxed at a different rate than other property. We do not so regard it. As we read that chapter it merely [85 S.D. 618] enumerates the factors to be considered and the procedures available to the commissioner of revenue in determining the assessed valuation of the operating property of railroads for taxation purposes. See Chicago and North Western Railway Company v. Gillis, 82 S.D. 470, 148 N.W.2d 581.

It should be noted that this centralized manner of evaluating railroad operating property for the purpose of taxation had its genesis in §§ 50--60, Ch. 14, Laws of 1891. Before that railroads were taxed a percentage of their gross earnings. Compiled Laws 1887, §§ 1571--1576. Incidentally, that 1891 enactment also made provision for the central assessment of other public utilities whose properties did not lend themselves to local assessment. When it was adopted the classification of property...

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5 practice notes
  • Appeal of AT & T Information Systems, No. 15370
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 22, 1987
    ...carriers was developed by the legislature. In support of its position the Board cites Appeals of Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d 276 (1971), which held that the legislature did not create a separate class for utilities with regard to the rate of tax imposed or wh......
  • Kindsfater v. Butte County, No. 16797
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • March 21, 1990
    ...there was a discriminatory value assessed, the appropriate remedy is a reduction in value. They cite Appeals of Chicago and N.W. Ry. Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d 276 (1971); Baken Park, Inc. v. County of Pennington, 79 S.D. 156, 109 N.W.2d 898 (1961); In re Jepsen's Appeal, 76 S.D. 421, 80 ......
  • Chicago, M., St. Paul & P. R. Co. v. Board of Com'rs of Walworth County, No. 11584
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 31, 1976
    ...act in the assessment process. In effect it sits as another board of equalization. Appeals of Chicago and North Western Railway Co., 1971, 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d In In re Robinson, 1951, 73 S.D. 580, 46 N.W.2d 908, citing Williams v. Stanley Co. Board of Equalization, 1942, 69 S.D. 118, 7 ......
  • State ex rel. Pennington County v. Mernaugh, No. 11191
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • August 31, 1973
    ...Of full and true value as was ordered with respect to railway property in the case of Appeals of Chicago & Northwestern Railway Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d The record reveals that statewide the average assessment of locally assessed real property was 38.33% Of its full and true value, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Appeal of AT & T Information Systems, No. 15370
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • April 22, 1987
    ...carriers was developed by the legislature. In support of its position the Board cites Appeals of Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d 276 (1971), which held that the legislature did not create a separate class for utilities with regard to the rate of tax imposed or wh......
  • Kindsfater v. Butte County, No. 16797
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • March 21, 1990
    ...there was a discriminatory value assessed, the appropriate remedy is a reduction in value. They cite Appeals of Chicago and N.W. Ry. Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d 276 (1971); Baken Park, Inc. v. County of Pennington, 79 S.D. 156, 109 N.W.2d 898 (1961); In re Jepsen's Appeal, 76 S.D. 421, 80 ......
  • Chicago, M., St. Paul & P. R. Co. v. Board of Com'rs of Walworth County, No. 11584
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 31, 1976
    ...act in the assessment process. In effect it sits as another board of equalization. Appeals of Chicago and North Western Railway Co., 1971, 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d In In re Robinson, 1951, 73 S.D. 580, 46 N.W.2d 908, citing Williams v. Stanley Co. Board of Equalization, 1942, 69 S.D. 118, 7 ......
  • State ex rel. Pennington County v. Mernaugh, No. 11191
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • August 31, 1973
    ...Of full and true value as was ordered with respect to railway property in the case of Appeals of Chicago & Northwestern Railway Co., 85 S.D. 613, 188 N.W.2d The record reveals that statewide the average assessment of locally assessed real property was 38.33% Of its full and true value, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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