DuPage Bank and Trust Co. v. Property Tax Appeal Bd. of Illinois Dept. of Revenue

Decision Date31 December 1986
Docket NumberNo. 2602 and 2439,P,Nos. 2-85-0509,2-85-0542,2602 and 2439,s. 2-85-0509
Citation104 Ill.Dec. 590,502 N.E.2d 1250,151 Ill.App.3d 624
Parties, 104 Ill.Dec. 590 DuPAGE BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, as Trustee of Trustslaintiff-Appellee, v. PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD OF the ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; the McHenry County Board of Review; the County of McHenry, Illinois, a body corporate and politic; and the Town of Algonquin, a body corporate and politic, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Roma Jones Stewart, Sol. Gen., Candida Miranda, Asst. Atty. Gen., Chicago, for defendants-appellants.

Franz, Naughton & Leahy, Sandra Kerrick, William M. Franz, Crystal Lake, for plaintiff-appellee.

Presiding Justice NASH delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) appeals from a judgment of the circuit court which, on administrative review, reversed a decision of the PTAB upholding the 1981 assessment of property held by the plaintiff, the DuPage Bank & Trust Company, as trustee. The PTAB contends the trial court erred in finding: (1) the assessment violated the constitutional requirement of uniformity of taxation; and (2) that the subject property was entitled to a farmland classification.

The subject property is a 107-acre parcel consisting of two tracts, 36.75 acres and 71 acres, located in a commercial/industrial area in the city of Crystal Lake. The south one-quarter of the property is improved with buildings once used by the Illinois Institute of Technology and McHenry County College, but abandoned since 1973. From July 1, 1980 to July 1, 1982, the 36.75 acre tract was zoned PUD Commercial and the 71 acre tract PUD for other uses.

The property was assessed at $540,520 for 1981, and plaintiff appealed to the McHenry County Board of Review for a reduction of the assessment and for a farmland classification as provided in section 20e of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 120, par. 501e). The board of review denied the requested relief, but adjusted the assessment to $476,060 to correct an error in the amount of acreage.

Plaintiff appealed the land assessment ($456,060 attributable to land and $20,000 attributable to improvements) to the PTAB and a hearing de novo was held on December 3, 1982. Plaintiff argued that the assessed valuation of the subject property was 26.5 times that of similar properties and offered three parcels as comparables: a 70.44 acre farm assessed at $21,400 as farmland; a 134 acre golf course assessed at $52,280 as open space; and a 66.28 acre farm assessed at $19,890 as farmland. Plaintiff also submitted a photograph of the subject property taken in November 1982, showing a corn crop on it.

The Algonquin Township Assessor testified that the fair market value of the subject property on January 1, 1981 was $2.7 million. The assessor based his valuation upon sales of comparably zoned property with road frontage and upon his estimation that it would take approximately 10 years to improve the property to its optimum market value. The assessor also testified that he was familiar with the subject property and had not observed any farming of it for 10 years prior to 1982, at which time the property had been planted with corn.

The PTAB found that the assessment was proper and plaintiff sought administrative review of that decision in the circuit court of McHenry County. The trial court found that the U.S. Constitution requires uniformity of taxation irrespective of the classification of property and that the property had not been uniformly assessed as compared with the other properties submitted. The circuit court also determined that the PTAB's finding that no farming had taken place on the property until 1982 was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence and that it was entitled to a farmland classification. The court reversed the decision of the PTAB and reduced the assessment of plaintiff's property from $4,262 to $304 per acre. The PTAB appeals.

We consider first the PTAB's contention that the circuit court erred in reversing the PTAB's finding that the property was not entitled to a farmland assessment.

A determination by an administrative agency will not be disturbed upon review unless contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. (Citizens Utilities Co. v. Department of Revenue (1986), 111 Ill.2d 32, 47, 94 Ill.Dec. 737, 488 N.E.2d 984; Cherry Bowl, Inc. v. Property Tax Appeal Board (1981), 100 Ill.App.3d 326, 328, 55 Ill.Dec. 472, 426 N.E.2d 618; Robinson v. Property Tax Appeal Board (1979), 72 Ill.App.3d 155, 156, 28 Ill.Dec. 583, 390 N.E.2d 942.) In order to qualify for assessment as farmland, real property must have been used as a farm for the two years preceding the tax year in question. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 120, par. 501e.) Section 1(25) of the Revenue Act of 1939 defines "farm" with reference to certain enumerated farming activities, such as the growing of crops and the raising of livestock. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1981, ch. 120, par. 482(25).) In determining whether property is entitled to a farmland classification for assessment purposes, the focus is on the present use of the property. Santa Fe Land Improvement Co. v. Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (1983), 113 Ill.App.3d 872, 875, 69 Ill.Dec. 708, 448 N.E.2d 3, appeal denied.

At the hearing before the PTAB, the township assessor testified that he was familiar with the subject property and had not observed any farming activity on it for the ten years prior to 1982. The only evidence of farming submitted by the plaintiff was a photograph taken in 1982 showing a corn crop on the property. No evidence was presented to establish that the property had been farmed in 1981, the tax year in question. Counsel for the plaintiff stated to the PTAB that farming had been "intermittent" and that for some years, including 1981, the property had been allowed to lie fallow. We conclude the trial court erred in finding that the PTAB's denial of a farmland classification was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

Plaintiff also argues that fallow lands should be classified as farmland, and represents that it is a practice in McHenry County to assess fallow lands as farmland. However, the Revenue Act does not contain an exception for fallow lands and, in any event, no evidence was offered to support the conclusion that the subject property was farmed prior to 1981 and then allowed to lie fallow as a farming practice. Moreover, plaintiff's representations as to local assessment practices are dehors the record, and thus do not constitute support for his argument. We conclude that the circuit court erred in applying a farmland classification to the property and in reducing the assessed valuation on that basis.

The PTAB next contends that the trial court erred in finding that the subject property was not assessed in accordance with the constitutional principle of uniformity of taxation, which requires that like property be equally taxed in proportion to value. (Apex Motor Fuel Co. v. Barrett (1960), 20 Ill.2d 395, 401, 169 N.E.2d 769; People ex rel. Wangelin v. Wiggins Ferry Co. (1934), 357 Ill. 173, 180, 191 N.E. 296.) Plaintiff argues that classification is irrelevant to the achievement of uniformity of taxation, and states that the assessed valuation of the subject property is 26.5 times that of similar parcels which are classified as farmland or open space.

The 1970 Illinois Constitution contains a uniformity clause which provides:

"Except as otherwise provided in this Section, taxes upon real property shall be levied uniformly by valuation ascertained as the General Assembly shall provide by law." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IX, § 4(a)).

The 1870 Illinois Constitution contained a similar provision (Ill. Const. 1870, art. IX, § 1). Our supreme court has determined that the clause requires only that taxation be uniform as to the class upon which it operates. (People ex rel. Bosworth v. Lowen (1984), 102 Ill.2d 242, 248, 80 Ill.Dec. 70, 464 N.E.2d 1053; Hoffmann v. Clark (1977), 69 Ill.2d 402, 423, 14 Ill.Dec. 269, 372 N.E.2d 74.) Since the subject property bore a different tax classification than the parcels which plaintiff offered as comparable, it has not been shown that the assessment offended the Illinois constitution.

Plaintiff also contends that the disparity between the assessed valuation of the subject property and the other "comparables" offends the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. (U.S. Const., amend. XIV, § 1.) The threshold inquiry in equal protection analysis is whether similarly situated persons are treated dissimilarly. (Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), 405 U.S. 438, 446-47, 92 S.Ct. 1029, 1034-35, 31 L.Ed.2d 349; Jenkins v. Wu (1984), 102 Ill.2d 468, 477, 82 Ill.Dec. 382, 468 N.E.2d 1162; People v. Sampson (1985), 130 Ill.App.3d 438, 445, 85 Ill.Dec. 403, 473 N.E.2d 1002.) The United States Supreme Court has held that the States may classify property for taxation purposes, provided equality is accorded to all members of the same class. (Lehnhausen v. Lake Shore Auto Parts Co. (1973), 410 U.S. 356, 359, 93 S.Ct. 1001, 1003, 35 L.Ed.2d 351; Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry. v. Browning (1940), 310 U.S. 362, 368, 60 S.Ct. 968, 971, 84 L.Ed. 1254.) The Illinois Supreme Court has also noted that, "It has long been settled that the power of the legislature to make classifications, particularly in the field of taxation, is very broad, and that the fourteenth amendment imposes no 'iron rule' of equal taxation." Department of Revenue v. Warren Petroleum Corp. (1954), 2 Ill.2d 483, 489-90, 119 N.E.2d 215.

Plaintiff does not contest the constitutionality of the statutes establishing farmland and open space classifications and, as we have determined, the subject property was not entitled to a farmland classification. Since plaintiff's property and the parcels offered as...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases
  • Kennedy Bros., Inc. v. Property Tax Appeal Bd.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 9, 1987
    ... ... 244 ... KENNEDY BROTHERS, INC., an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, ... PROPERTY ... Board (PTAB) that section 20g-4 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 120, par ... 737, 488 N.E.2d 984; DuPage Bank & Trust Co. v. Property Tax Appeal Board ... ...
  • Lake County Bd. of Review v. Property Tax Appeal Bd.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 28, 1989
    ... ... 2-89-0334 ... Appellate Court of Illinois, ... Second District ... Dec. 28, 1989 ... pursuant to section 20g-1 of the Revenue Act of 1939, as amended (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch ... of floodplain, the purchaser, Old Orchard Bank & Trust Company under trust No. 86-26, was ... ...
  • Oakridge Dev. Co. v. Prop. Tax Appeal Bd.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 15, 2010
  • Brazas v. Property Tax Appeal Bd.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 11, 2003
    ... ... No. 2-02-0878 ... Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District ... June 11, 2003 ... Du Page Bank & Trust Co. v. Property Tax Appeal Board, 151 ... , 502 N.E.2d 1250, quoting Department of Revenue v. Warren Petroleum Corp., 2 Ill.2d 483, 489-90, ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT