People ex rel. Munson v. Morningside Heights, Inc.

Decision Date20 May 1970
Docket NumberNo. 42226,42226
Citation259 N.E.2d 27,45 Ill.2d 338
PartiesThe PEOPLE ex rel. Corbin B. MUNSON, County Collector, Appellee, v. MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, INC., Appellant.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

Nielsen, Sumberg & Spelman, Rockford (Alan G. Sumberg, Rockford, of counsel), for appellant.

Philip G. Reinbhard, State's Atty., Rockford (William H. Gates, Asst. State's Atty., of counsel), for appellee.

WARD, Justice.

The county collector of Winnebago County applied to the circuit court of that county for judgment for delinquent 1966 real-estate taxes which had been paid under protest by Morningside Heights, Inc. Objections were filed by the taxpayer alleging that its property had been so excessively overvalued as to constitute constructive fraud. After a hearing, the circuit court of Winnebago County dismissed the objections and entered judgment for the full amount of the tax. Since the revenue is involved, the taxpayer has appealed directly to this court. Ill.Rev.Stat.1969, ch. 110A, par. 302(a).

The real estate concerned consists of a 75--80 year old building, housing apartments and a store. It was described as being in a poor state of repair. Initially it had been given a 1966 assessed valuation of $39,000, but the valuation was later reduced to $36,000 by the board of review of Winnebago County. In the year in question, 1966, real property in the county was assessed at a rate not to exceed 55% Of its fair cash market value. Using this prescription, it would appear that the taxing authorities had determined that the fair cash value of the taxpayer's property was about $65,000.

At the hearing, evidence was presented by the taxpayer that the property, after having been for sale on the open market for two years, had been sold in 1966 to Land Rock Builders, Inc. There was no evidence what the asking price or prices had been during this period but the purchase price to be paid by Land Rock Builders, Inc. was $38,500. This was to be paid by the assumption by the buyer of the balance due in this amount on an outstanding mortgage on the property. It appears that the mortgage had been given in 1959 for $63,000. The president of Land Rock Builders, Inc., the present owner of the property, and the real estate broker who negotiated the sale testified that in their opinions $38,500 represented the fair cash market value of the property. Considering the assessment rate of 55% Of fair cash market value, the taxpayer contends that the property should have been assessed at about $21,000. It offers again its argument that the assessment of $36,000 as set by the board of review was so grossly excessive as to amount to constructive fraud.

It is clear that courts, because of the separation of powers, in the absence of a showing of actual or constructive fraud, have no power to review, with a view to altering, the valuation of property which has been fixed for purposes of taxation by appropriate administrative officers. (People ex rel. Joseph v. Schoenborn, 41 Ill.2d 302, 242 N.E.2d 147; People ex rel. Nordlund v. Lans, 31 Ill.2d 477, 202 N.E.2d 543.) What must be shown by a taxpayer to demonstrate constructive fraud was recently and concisely described by this court in People ex rel. Frantz v. M.D.B.K.W., Inc., 36 Ill.2d 209, 211, 221 N.E.2d 650, 652. We observed:

'The law requires assessment of property at its fair market value. The ascertainment of such value for purposes of taxation is primarily for the administrative officers to whom this function is delegated, and except for cases of fraud, courts will not undertake to review the determination. When valuation has been fraudulently made it is subject to judicial review, but more is required for this purpose than merely showing an overvaluation. It is only where the property has been grossly overvalued, the assessed...

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11 cases
  • People ex rel. Devine v. Murphy
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • March 19, 1998
    ...N.E.2d 506 (1989); La Salle National Bank v. County of Cook, 57 Ill.2d 318, 312 N.E.2d 252 (1974); People ex rel. Munson v. Morningside Heights, Inc., 45 Ill.2d 338, 259 N.E.2d 27 (1970); Spencer & Gardner v. People, 68 Ill. 510 (1873). Respondents contend that these cases stand for the pro......
  • Collector of Cook County, Application of
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 29, 1987
    ...478 N.E.2d 343; People ex rel. Frantz v. M.D.B.K.W., Inc. (1966), 36 Ill.2d 209, 211, 221 N.E.2d 650; People ex rel. Munson v. Morningside Heights (1970), 45 Ill.2d 338, 341, 259 N.E.2d 27.) Specifically, where an assessment does not disregard "recognized elements of value" or violate "acce......
  • County Treasurer and Ex Officio County Collector of Cook County, Application of
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • September 27, 1989
    ...the valuation of property fixed for taxation purposes by the appropriate assessing officers (People ex rel. Munson v. Morningside Heights, Inc. (1970), 45 Ill.2d 338, 340, 259 N.E.2d 27). A taxpayer may challenge an assessment on the basis of either actual or, as here, constructive fraud. (......
  • Henkhaus v. Barton
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 30, 1977
    ...either actual or constructive fraud. (People ex rel. Callahan v. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio R. R. Co.; People ex rel. Munson v. Morningside Heights, Inc., 45 Ill.2d 338, 259 N.E.2d 27.) Differences of opinion as to the proper valuation of property, whether between the property owners and the asses......
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