Edgewood Sch. Inc. v. Town Of Greenwich.

Decision Date13 July 1944
Citation38 A.2d 792,131 Conn. 179
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court



Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, Fairfield County; Wall, Judge.

Proceeding by the Edgewood School, Inc., against the Town of Greenwich to review on appeal an order of the Board of Tax Review of such town, denying plaintiff's appeal from the town assessors' order denying plaintiff's claim for exemption of its property from taxation. From a judgment for plaintiff after trial to the court, defendant appeals.

No error.

BROWN and ELLS, JJ., dissenting.

H. Allen Barton, of Greenwich, for appellant (defendant).

Philo C. Calhoun, of Bridgeport, for appellee (plaintiff).



The principal question to be determined is whether the plaintiff school is exempt from taxation under our statutes. The finding is subject to correction in only one respect material on this appeal. The issues were greatly narrowed by the sustaining of a demurrer to all the special defenses but one. Only two questions remain for decision, the one stated above and the scope of an appeal from a board of tax review.

The plaintiff is a corporation without capital stock, organized in 1921 and since that date located in Greenwich. Its stated purpose was to establish and maintain a private school. It is coeducational and most of its pupils come from Greenwich and vicinity. There are one hundred and fifty students, sixty of whom are boarders, and they range from pre-school age to those preparing for college. The plaintiff specializes in the education of pupils who, for various reasons, have difficulty in adjusting themselves to the public school, and it has obtained excellent results. Pupils are frequently referred to the school for this reason by public and private school teachers and officials of social agencies. The spirit of the school is highly democratic and free from social or financial distinctions or discrimination. The pupils to a great extent take care of the maintenance of the property, keep the rooms in order, wait on table, care for vegetable gardens, cut firewood and perform similar self-sustaining functions. The school is operated, insofar as its accommodations permit, as a public school, and no worthy applicant has ever been rejected for inability to pay the established rates or for other financial or social reasons.

The teachers are paid moderate salaries. The tuition ranges from $150 in the lower grades to $450 in the upper, and the established rate for boarders is $1,400. All of these rates are maximum and are adjusted downwards where necessary. Free scholarships are given to about thirty day pupils, and the average annual additional deductions granted other pupils have amounted to approximately $12,000. The school has on occasion loaned its facilities to the town of Greenwich for scientific study and has made its manual training departments available to inhabitants of the town. The average annual rebate in tuition to pupils from Greenwich has been $5,000. No member, officer or employee of the corporation has ever received or, by an amendment of its certificate of incorporation made in June, 1941, will in the future receive, any pecuniary profits from the operation of the corporation except reasonable compensation for services.

The school has always operated at a loss, the deficits usually being made up by gifts from individuals. The average annual deficit over the last ten years has been $21,600. In 1941, its gross income was $88,105.21 and its gross expenditures, $113,241.37, leaving a deficit of $25,136.16. The book value of its property on June 1, 1942, was $221,774.10, of which $184,040 was real estate. The real estate was assessed for $160,830, and no assessment of personal property was made.

Prior to the last day for the filing of assessment returns (July 1, 1942) with the assessors, a claim for exemption on a form prepared by the state tax commissioner was filed with them. The claim was denied and the plaintiff appealed to the board of tax review, filing a claim for exemption with it on a form prepared by it for the purpose. On October 2, 1942, the treasurer of the plaintiff appeared before the board, orally made claim for exemption and offered to be sworn and to answer all questions touching the school property. No inquiry of him was made and the appeal was denied.

The pertinent statute is General Statutes, § 1163(7), adopted in 1927, set forth in the footnote. 1 The history of this statute has been reviewed, and it has been applied, in many recent cases. Canterbury School, Inc., v. Town of New Milford, 111 Conn. 203, 149 A. 685; Stamford Jewish Center, Inc., v. Town of Stamford, 117 Conn. 379, 168 A. 5; Masonic Building Ass'n v. Town of Stamford, 119 Conn. 53, 174 A. 301; Connecticut Junior Republic Ass'n, Inc., v. Town of Litchfield, 119 Conn. 106, 174 A. 304, 95 A.L.R. 56; Charter Oak Council, Inc., v. Town of New Hartford, 121 Conn. 466, 185 A. 575. In the first and last, exemption was denied on the ground that profits might accrue to officers, members or employees; the Masonic Building Association was held not to fulfill the condition of being a charitable or educational institution within the statute. The Stamford Jewish Center was not primarily an educational institution. The Connecticut Junior Republic was held to fulfill all conditions. Like the Republic, the plaintiff is organized to care for educationally exceptional and underprivileged children; nearly 20 per cent of its expenses are met by charitable gifts. By caring for this type of child, it not only relieves the public school system of a number of pupils, but, even though that number be comparatively small, it serves the interests of the general public. Such children are a great burden and responsibility on the teachers and a disturbing element in the school.

Such difference as exists between the Republic and the plaintiff undoubtedly lies in the more charitable aspect of the former, which is concerned primarily with the underprivileged rather than incidentally as is the case with the plaintiff. This distinction, under the facts found, is not such as to deprive the plaintiff of the benefit of the statute. Its property is sequestered for educational uses and neither it nor any person can secure any profit from its operations. This brings it squarely within the four corners of the statute. The only two requirements stated therein are fulfilled. The holdings and dicta referred...

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    ...that no such profit could be received. See Blodgett v. Bridgeport City Trust Co., 115 Conn. 127, 134, 161 A. 83; Edgewood School, Inc. v. Greenwich, 131 Conn. 179, 38 A.2d 792. The administrator, in denying exemption to the plaintiff, applied a like limitation to the terms of exemption of e......
  • President and Fellows of Harvard College v. Town of Ledyard, 24110
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    • Connecticut Court of Common Pleas
    • June 20, 1975
    ...12-118 includes the determination of tax exemption after denial by the assessors and the board of tax review. Edgewood School, Inc. v. Greenwich, 131 Conn. 179, 184, 38 A.2d 792; see Institute of Living v. Hartford, 133 Conn. 258, 50 A.2d 822. The appeal to the court from the board of tax r......
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    ...involved in that case and the cases of the Pomfret School and the Female Academy. Finally, in Edgewood School, Inc., v. Greenwich, 131 Conn. 179, at page 183, 38 A.2d 792, at page 794, in holding the plaintiff entitled to exemption, we said that its property was ‘sequestered for educational......
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