Essex Co. v. City of Lawrence

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtRUGG
Citation214 Mass. 79,100 N.E. 1016
Decision Date26 February 1913
PartiesESSEX CO. v. CITY OF LAWRENCE.

214 Mass. 79
100 N.E. 1016

ESSEX CO.
v.
CITY OF LAWRENCE.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Essex.

Feb. 26, 1913.


Report from Superior Court, Essex County; J. F. Quinn, Judge.

Proceeding by the Essex Company against the City of Lawrence in the nature of an appeal from the city assessors' refusal to abate taxes assessed against the petition. On report from the superior court. Abatement granted, and judgment entered for petitioner.


[214 Mass. 86]F. E. Dunbar, A. C. Spalding, and John J. Rogers, all of Lowell, for petitioner.

Daniel J. Murphy and J. P. Sweeney, both of Lawrence, for respondent.


RUGG, C. J.

This is a complaint filed in the superior court under R. L. c. 12, § 78, in the nature of an appeal from a refusal by the assessors of Lawrence to abate taxes assessed to the Essex Company for 1909.

It is urged that the superior court has no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint. The reason put forward in support of this contention is that the petitioner having filed no list as required by R. L. c. 12, § 41, and hence not being entitled as of right to petition for abatement under section 74, it can proceed only under R. L. c. 14, § 42, which refers to R. L. c. 12, § 77 alone, and therefore limits the right of appeal to the county commissioners.

The assessors of Lawrence in 1909 greatly increased the valuation of the real estae of the petitioner, and the tax commissioner of the commonwealth found the value thereof, for the purpose of estimating the petitioner's excise tax, to be less than that fixed by the assessors. Thereupon he sent to the petitioner a letter, in which he said: ‘You are hereby notified in accordance with the provisions of section 42 of chapter 14 of the Revised Laws, that the value of the real estate and machinery of the Essex Company situated in the city of Lawrence, as determined by the tax commissioner, is $1,431,750, being less than its value as determined by the assessors of Lawrence, by $545,000, the assessors having valued the same at $1,976,750. Your attention is respectfully directed to the provisions contained in the same section; by which if said corporation does not, within one month from the date of this notice make application to said assessors for an abatement, and does not, in case of the refusal of said assessors to grant an abatement, forthwith prosecute an appeal, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 12, sections 77 or 78 of the Revised Laws, and give notice thereof to the tax commissioner,[214 Mass. 87]such determination will be conclusive upon said corporation for the purposes of the above act.’

[1] It has been faintly argued that R. L. c. 14, § 42, was repealed by St. 1903, c. 437, § 95. But this is not so, for the reason among others that chapter 437, according to section 1, does not apply to a canal corporation, which the petitioner is.

[2] The jurisdictional contention of the respondent cannot be sustained. The tax commissioner is required by R. L. c. 14, § 42, to notify the corporation in case he finds the value of its real estate and machinery subject to local taxation to be less than that made by the local assessors. This is doubtless in order that it may save itself from a result in some respects similar to double taxation, by applying for an abatement first to the assessors, and then by appeal under R. L. c. 12, § 77. The original enactment was St. 1865, c. 283, § 6, which since has been a part of our corporation tax law. It applies only when the tax commissioner does not accept the valuation of the local assessors in reliance upon the last clause of R. L. c. 14, § 38, but makes an independent valuation. That is the case at bar. It offers an opportunity to the corporation, but does not force upon it a course of action. The corporation is enabled to get its real estate and machinery valued by an appellate tribunal, not because it has put itself in a position where it can enforce a right by having filed a list, but because a different officer representing another branch of the general taxing power of the commonwealth has affected its interests by making a new valuation. The right of the corporation to apply for abatement under such circumstances exists even though it has filed no list. Lowell v. County Com'rs, 146 Mass. 403, 410, 16 N. E. 8.

Refusal on the part of the assessors to make a reduction of valuation constitutes the corporation ‘a person aggrieved’ within the meaning of those words in R. L. c. 12, § 77. Hough v. North Adams, 196 Mass. 290, 82 N. E. 46. Every ‘person aggrieved’ within the meaning of section 77 is given by section 78 the alternative of appealing to the superior court instead of to the county commissioners. It is of no consequence in this connection how the grievance arises. It comes through failure of the assessors to grant an abatement, which the taxpayer was either entitled to ask for by reason of having seasonably filed a list, or permitted by the statute to ask [214 Mass. 88]for by reason of the action of another representative of the taxing power. The procedure is the same in either case. There appears to be no inconsistency between R. L. c. 14, § 42, as thus interpreted,

[100 N.E. 1018]

and section 39 of the same chapter, which authorizes the tax commissioner to require a corporation to prosecute an appeal from the valuation of its real estate and machinery either to the county commissioners or to the superior court. The substance of this section appears first in St. 1890, c. 127, § 7, by which jurisdiction in tax appeals was earliest conferred upon the superior court. It was not necessary to enact a special section to include corporations. They were comprehended under the word...

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24 practice notes
  • Cent. Nat. Bank v. City of Lynn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 12, 1927
    ...192 Mass. 491, 498, 78 N. E. 451. The cases of Lowell v. County Commissioners, 146 Mass. 403, 16 N. E. 8, and Essex Company v. Lwarence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N. E. 1016, afford no support to any contrary theory because they relate to a different statute and divergent facts. It follows, from th......
  • Bean v. Cent. Maine Power Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 21, 1934
    ...that of developing the capacity of the river for power, should be considered in estimating its fair cash value." Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N. E. 1016, The rule that, in valuing land taken under condemnation proceedings, riparian rights must be considered as a factor, is undis......
  • Assessors of Quincy v. Boston Consol. Gas Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 26, 1941
    ...cost and productive power are all legitimate elements bearing upon true value, but none of them are decisive.’ Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 89, 100 N.E. 1016, 1018;Massachusetts General Hospital v. Belmont, 238 Mass. 396, 402, 131 N.E. 72;Waltham Watch & Clock Co. v. Waltham, 272 Ma......
  • Amory v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 9, 1947
    ...413, 16 N.E. 8; [72 N.E.2d 559]Blackstone Mfg. Co. v. Blackstone, 200 Mass. 82, 85 N.E. 880, 18 L.R.A.,N.S., 755; Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N.E. 1016;Crocker-McElwain Co. v. Assessors of Holyoke, 296 Mass. 338, 5 N.E.2d 558, 108 A.L.R. 821. But even if the value of water righ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Cent. Nat. Bank v. City of Lynn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • March 12, 1927
    ...192 Mass. 491, 498, 78 N. E. 451. The cases of Lowell v. County Commissioners, 146 Mass. 403, 16 N. E. 8, and Essex Company v. Lwarence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N. E. 1016, afford no support to any contrary theory because they relate to a different statute and divergent facts. It follows, from th......
  • Bean v. Cent. Maine Power Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 21, 1934
    ...that of developing the capacity of the river for power, should be considered in estimating its fair cash value." Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N. E. 1016, The rule that, in valuing land taken under condemnation proceedings, riparian rights must be considered as a factor, is undis......
  • Assessors of Quincy v. Boston Consol. Gas Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 26, 1941
    ...cost and productive power are all legitimate elements bearing upon true value, but none of them are decisive.’ Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 89, 100 N.E. 1016, 1018;Massachusetts General Hospital v. Belmont, 238 Mass. 396, 402, 131 N.E. 72;Waltham Watch & Clock Co. v. Waltham, 272 Ma......
  • Amory v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 9, 1947
    ...413, 16 N.E. 8; [72 N.E.2d 559]Blackstone Mfg. Co. v. Blackstone, 200 Mass. 82, 85 N.E. 880, 18 L.R.A.,N.S., 755; Essex Co. v. Lawrence, 214 Mass. 79, 100 N.E. 1016;Crocker-McElwain Co. v. Assessors of Holyoke, 296 Mass. 338, 5 N.E.2d 558, 108 A.L.R. 821. But even if the value of water righ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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