Blomquist v. Board of Com'rs of Bannock County

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtSULLIVAN, J.
Citation137 P. 174,25 Idaho 284
Decision Date29 November 1913
PartiesJ. A. BLOMQUIST et al., as the Idaho Tax Commission, Plaintiffs, v. THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF BANNOCK COUNTY, Acting as a Board of Equalization, Defendants

137 P. 174

25 Idaho 284

J. A. BLOMQUIST et al., as the Idaho Tax Commission, Plaintiffs,
v.

THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF BANNOCK COUNTY, Acting as a Board of Equalization, Defendants

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 29, 1913


TAXATION - EQUALIZATION - STATE TAX COMMISSION - LEGISLATURE-POWERS OF-CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-ASSESSOR-BOARD OF EQUALIZATION-FUNCTION OF.

1. Held, that the legislature, in creating the Idaho tax commission (Sess. Laws 1913, p. 167), did not intend to deprive any of the constitutional officers or boards of duties imposed upon them by the express or implied provisions of the constitution, and that it was not intended that said tax commission should usurp or perform the duties of the assessors or county boards of equalization.

2. Held, that said act is not in conflict with the provisions of the constitution.

3. Held, that said tax commission has not the power or authority to compel a county board of equalization to adopt its views or judgment in equalizing the value of certain property for taxation.

4. The words "assessor" and county "board of equalization," as used in the state constitution, carry with them the powers usually conferred on officers or boards of like names.

5. Under the provisions of sec. 6, art. 18, of the constitution, it is essential that the assessment of property located wholly within [25 Idaho 285] a county shall be made by the assessor elected by the voters of the county, and after such assessment is made, the county board of equalization may equalize such assessments.

6. Under the provisions of the state constitution, the legislature cannot assess property, nor can any appointive board do so.

7. Since the constitution provided a method or system for the assessment of property with the object and purpose of arriving at a uniformity of valuation, and has designated certain officers to perform the duties relative thereto, it is beyond the power of the legislature to take from such officers such duties.

8. When the county board of equalization exercises its legal discretion in regard to equalizing the valuation of property for assessment and does so in good faith and without fraud, the tax commission has no authority to set aside such action and substitute its own judgment therefor.

9. Since the constitution provides a scheme or framework for the administration of the revenue laws of the state, the legislature cannot substitute another and different scheme or method therefor.

10. Sec. 6, art. 18, of the state constitution provides for the biennial election of county commissioners, and section 12 of art. 7 provides that the boards of county commissioners of the several counties of the state shall constitute boards of equalization in their respective counties, whose duty it shall be to equalize the valuation of taxable property in their respective counties.

11. A state board of equalization is provided for by sec. 12, art. 7, of the state constitution, consisting of five state officers. That board has power to equalize the assessment of property between different counties of the state, and also to assess the property of railroads, telegraph, telephone and transmission lines of the state.

12. In mandamus proceedings, if the action required is judicial and discretionary in its nature, the court could only compel the officer to act, but could not compel him to decide in any particular manner.

13. The legislature has no power or authority to set aside the revenue system of the state for assessing, equalizing and taxing property established by the constitution.

14. Where the situs of property for taxation is not wholly within any one county, such as railroads, telegraph lines, etc., such property may be assessed as a whole by the officers having jurisdiction thereof, such as the state board of equalization in this state.

15. The legislature has not provided an appeal from the decision of boards of equalization.

16. The Idaho tax commission is not given the power under the provisions of said act to compel the county board of equalization, [25 Idaho 286] where such board has acted within its legal discretion, and fairly and honestly, to change such action and make it conform to the judgment of the commission in such matter.

Original proceedings in this court for a writ of mandate to compel the county board of equalization of Bannock county to change its equalization of the valuation of certain property in said county to conform to the views of the tax commission in regard thereto. Alternative writ quashed and peremptory writ denied.

Alternative writ quashed and the peremptory writ of mandate denied. No costs awarded in this proceeding.

D. Worth Clark and Jas. E. Babb, for Plaintiffs.

It is general rule that, in summary proceedings in mandamus, courts refuse to determine constitutionality of statutes affecting the rights of third parties; and grave questions of this character may not be raised by ministerial officers whose duty it is to carry out statutory directions. (High on Extr. Remedies, par. 143; People v. Salomon, 54 Ill. 39; State v. Hapgood, 30 S.C. 519, 9 S.E. 686, 3 L. R. A. 841; People v. Collins, 7 Johns. (N. Y.) 549; School Dist. of Tremont v. Clark, 33 Me. 482; Smythe v. Titcomb, 31 Me. 272.)

"Public policy and public necessity require prompt and efficient action from such officers, and when intrusted with the assessment of taxes and the collection and disbursement of revenue, they have no right to refuse to perform ministerial duties prescribed by law because of any apprehension on their part that others may be injuriously affected, or that the statute prescribing such duties may be unconstitutional." (People v. Ames, 24 Colo. 422, 51 P. 426; Airy v. People, 21 Colo. 144, 40 P. 362; Newman v. People, 23 Colo. 300, 47 P. 278.)

Statutes of this character, conferring upon officers and boards a general supervision, have a general and accepted meaning which carries with it the power of correction as well as overseeing and overlooking, and there is no thought of impotency contained in the terms of the statute. (Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Snohomish County, 48 Wash. 478, 93 P. 924.)

[25 Idaho 287] There is nothing even hinted at in the constitution to carry the idea that the county assessor is to be the only officer who can assess property for taxation in the state, and ever since 1901 the state board of equalization has had the exclusive power to assess and value for purposes of taxation all telegraph and telephone and railroad tracks and rolling stock and franchises of public service companies and corporations owning such property situated wholly or partly within this state. This statute has been in force since its enactment (Laws 1901, p. 233), and has been upheld by this court. (McConnell v. State Board, 11 Idaho 652, 83 P. 494.) The decisions of our supreme court upon this subject are in consonance with decisions of courts of other states where this question has arisen, and particularly in Colorado and Missouri, where the constitutional provisions establishing state boards of equalization are similar to the provisions of our constitution. (Ames v. People, 26 Colo. 83, 56 P. 656.)

The attention of the court is also called to the case of State v. Daniels, 143 Wis. 649, 128 N.W. 565, wherein the supreme court of Wisconsin construed a constitutional provision similar to the provision of the constitution of California passed upon in Houghton v. Austin, 47 Cal. 646. (See, also, Board of Tax Commrs. v. Board of Assessors, 124 Mich. 491, 83 N.W. 209.)

J. H. Peterson, Attorney General, J. J. Guheen and T. C. Coffin, Assistants, and McDougall & Jones, for Defendants.

The constitution provides a framework upon which to build our revenue laws, consisting of assessment of property by local elective officers, equalization of assessments by local elective equalizing boards and equalization between localities by a state elective board. (Const., art. 7, secs. 5, 12; art. 18, secs. 6, 10.)

The word "assessor" as used in the constitution carries with it the powers usually conferred upon officers of like names. (Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 6 L.Ed. 23; Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Martien, 27 Mont. 437-440, 71 P. 740; [25 Idaho 288] State v. Tonella, 70 Miss. 701, 14 So. 17, 22 L. R. A. 346; French v. State, 52 Miss. 759; People v. Raymond, 37 N.Y. 431.)

Under sec. 6, art. 18, Idaho constitution, it is essential that the assessment of property be made by assessors elected by the voters of the county. (Welty on Assessment, sec. 10; People v. Hastings, 29 Cal. 449; People v. San Francisco Savings Union, 31 Cal. 132; People v. McCreery, 34 Cal. 433; People v. Sargent, 44 Cal. 430; Houghton v. Austin, 47 Cal. 646; State v. Tonella, supra; Cooley on Taxation, 3d ed., sec. 778.)

Where the constitution provides a method or system for the assessment of property with the object of arriving at a uniformity of valuation and designates certain officers to perform certain duties, involving the exercise of their individual judgments, it is beyond the power of the legislature to pass any law affecting the performance of those duties or controlling the exercise of that judgment. (Houghton v. Austin, supra; Wells, Fargo & Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 56 Cal. 194; State v. Tonella, supra; Ames v. People, 26 Colo. 83, 56 P. 656; In re Taxation of Mining Claims, 9 Colo. 635, 21 P. 476; People ex rel. Crawford v. Lothrop, 3 Colo. 428; Davies v. Board of Supervisors, 89 Mich. 295, 50 N.W. 862; Cooley on Taxation, 3d ed., 427-429.)

When the constitution devolves a duty upon a particular person, the legislature may not substitute another. (Welty on Taxation, sec. 10; Houghton v. Austin, supra; State v. Tonella, supra.)

The legislature is not empowered to provide for the review of the action of county boards of equalization. (Feltham v. Board, 10 Idaho 182, 77 P. 332; Raaf v. Board, 11 Idaho 707, 84...

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17 practice notes
  • State v. American Surety Co. of New York
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • December 31, 1914
    ...of holding him liable for bad faith and corruption. This court has already in effect held in Blomquist v. Board of County Commissioners, 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174, that certain [26 Idaho 679] duties of the assessors involved the exercise of their legal discretion or individual judgment, but ......
  • Logan v. Carter, 5571
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • May 22, 1930
    ...Brady, 17 Idaho 567, 107 P. 493; Darby v. Pence, 17 Idaho 697, 107 P. 484, 27 L. R. A., N. S., 1194; Blomquist v. Board of County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174; Furbee v. Alexander, supra.) A writ of mandate cannot be invoked to enforce contract obligations. (18 R. C. L. 121-128.) Under......
  • State v. State Board of Education
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 22, 1921
    ...from the board of regents powers conferred by the constitution. (Finlen v. Heinze, 27 Mont. 107, 69 P. 829; Blomquist v. County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174; State v. Hastings, 10 Wis. 525; Trapp v. Cook Construction Co., supra; Wineberg v. Regents, 97 Mich. 246, 56 N.W. 605; Sterling ......
  • Mcgoldrick Lumber Company v. Benewah County, 6000
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 20, 1934
    ...Stark, 138 Ind. 94, 34 N.E. 444.) Ed. S. Elder, for Respondents and Cross-Appellants. In the case of Blomquist v. Board of County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174, in discussing the question of an appeal from the board of county commissioners, the court uses this language: "If an appeal we......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • State v. American Surety Co. of New York
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • December 31, 1914
    ...of holding him liable for bad faith and corruption. This court has already in effect held in Blomquist v. Board of County Commissioners, 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174, that certain [26 Idaho 679] duties of the assessors involved the exercise of their legal discretion or individual judgment, but ......
  • Logan v. Carter, 5571
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • May 22, 1930
    ...Brady, 17 Idaho 567, 107 P. 493; Darby v. Pence, 17 Idaho 697, 107 P. 484, 27 L. R. A., N. S., 1194; Blomquist v. Board of County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174; Furbee v. Alexander, supra.) A writ of mandate cannot be invoked to enforce contract obligations. (18 R. C. L. 121-128.) Under......
  • State v. State Board of Education
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 22, 1921
    ...from the board of regents powers conferred by the constitution. (Finlen v. Heinze, 27 Mont. 107, 69 P. 829; Blomquist v. County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174; State v. Hastings, 10 Wis. 525; Trapp v. Cook Construction Co., supra; Wineberg v. Regents, 97 Mich. 246, 56 N.W. 605; Sterling ......
  • Mcgoldrick Lumber Company v. Benewah County, 6000
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 20, 1934
    ...Stark, 138 Ind. 94, 34 N.E. 444.) Ed. S. Elder, for Respondents and Cross-Appellants. In the case of Blomquist v. Board of County Commrs., 25 Idaho 284, 137 P. 174, in discussing the question of an appeal from the board of county commissioners, the court uses this language: "If an appeal we......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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