People ex rel. Schuler v. Chapman

Decision Date15 February 1939
Docket NumberNo. 24898.,24898.
Citation370 Ill. 430,19 N.E.2d 351
PartiesPEOPLE ex rel. SCHULER, County Collector, v. CHAPMAN.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court


Proceedings by the People, on the relation of Leon M. Schuler, County Collector, against Emma F. Chapman to collect delinquent taxes. From a judgment overruling the defendant's objections and directing sale of her property, the defendant appeals.

Judgment reversed and cause remanded with directions.Appeal from Kane County Court; Olney C. Allen, Judge.

Barnabas F. Sears and Donald F. Suhumacher, both of Aurora, for appellant.

Charles A. O'Connor, State's Atty., of Aurora (Carleton A. Shults and Frank Reid, Jr., both of Aurora, of counsel), for appellee.

STONE, Justice.

Appellant appeals from a judgment of the county court of Kane county overruling her objections to a tax assessed in 1936 as omitted property, in the years 1927 to 1930, inclusive, and ordering sale of the property consisting of a certain lot and parts of lots in the city of Aurora, improved with a four-story building. Subsequent to 1923 no improvements or additions have been added to the building.

For the quadrennial assessment 1923 to 1926, inclusive, the property was assessed as improved real estate of a value of $60,000. Taxes were extended on that assessment on a valuation of $30,000, under the law then in force extending taxes on fifty per cent of the assessed value, and were paid by appellant. For the quadrennium, 1927 to 1930, inclusive, the property was assessed by the assessor, apparently through mistake, at $6600. The assessment was in regular form and the assessor's oath was affixed thereto as required by statute. This assessment was approved by the board of review for those years and its oath attached to their record. Taxes were extended thereon in each of the years and the taxes so extended were paid or caused to be paid by appellant. By the quadrennial assessment in 1931, the assessor fixed the value of the premises in question in the amount of $66,000. This valuation was reduced in 1932 to $52,800.

In 1936, the difference between the valuations on this property for the years 1927 to 1930, inclusive, and that of other years, came to the attention of the board of supervisors of Kane county. A committee of that board reported an error had been made by the assessor in transcribing the proposed valuation which was $66,000, but was transcribed as $6600; that the assessment books for 1927 to 1930, inclusive, show the assessed value of the improved lots was fixed at $6600, but that the assessment books failed to show that the assessor complied with the law in separating the land value from the value of the improvements and listing them in separate columns. The suggestion was made that the board of review take necessary action to compel the property in question to pay its correct tax for the years 1927 to 1930, inclusive.

The board of review, after notice to appellant and a hearing, found that the improvements on said premises were not listed and valued by the assessor in the years 1927 to 1930, inclusive; placed the value of the improvements for those years at $42,000; assessed said property at that value and ordered an assessment for the years 1927 to 1930, inclusive, as omitted property. Appellant not having paid the tax thus extended in 1936, application for judgment against the property for delinquent taxes for those years, amounting to $9510.20, was made. Appellant filed written objections enumerating sixteen reasons why she should not pay the tax.

The county court found, as a fact, that the local assessor, in transcribing the assessed value of $66,000 for the 1927 to 1930 quadrennial assessment from his workbook to the assessment record filed with the county clerk, made a mistake, leaving off a cipher, so that the valuation of the premises as returned in the assessor's books filed with the county clerk was $6600 instead of $66,000. That court also held that the finding of the board of review that the improvements on the property had been omitted during the period in question was purely arbitrary and not based upon any evidence in the record; that the record showed an assessment of improved property, but concluded that the assessment during the years in question was so low as to show fraud and was void, and, therefore, no assessment at all, and the improvements upon the premises should be deemed to have been omitted from general tax assessments for those years. Objections were overruled and judgment entered for the sale of the property.

Sections 12 and 14 of the Revenue act of 1898, Ill.Rev.Stat.1937, chap. 120, §§ 291, 293, p. 2678, so far as material here, are as follows:

Section 12: ‘The assessor shall, before the first day of June in the year 1899 and every fourth year thereafter, in person or by his deputy, actually view and determine as near as practicable the value of each tract or lot of land listed for taxation as of the first day of April of each year, and assess the same at the value required by law, setting down the sum in proper columns prepared therefor in duplicate books furnished him; * * *. In making such assessments he shall set down his valuation of improved tracts and lots in one column, and his value of unimproved tracts and lots in another column. He shall, also, between the first day of April and the first day of June in each intervening year, list and assess in like manner all real property which shall become taxable and which is not upon the general assessment, and also make and return a list of all new or added buildings, structures or other improvements of any kind, the value of which shall not have been previously added to or included in the valuation of the tract or lot on which such improvements have been erected or placed. * * * And in case any assessor shall fail or neglect so to do, then the supervisor of assessments shall, in the case of such new or added improvements, assess the same according to the assessment of the same property in the general assessment, and in the case of such destruction shall abate from the assessment of the tracts or lots so damaged or lessened the proper proportion thereof,’ etc.

Section 14: ‘On or before the first day of June in each year, other than the year of the quadrennial assessment, the assessor shall determine the amount, in his opinion, of any change in the value of any tracts or lots of land by reason of any injury to, alteration in or addition to, the improvements thereon since the first of April in the preceding year and prior to the first of April in the current year, and add to or deduct from the assessment accordingly, setting down the amount of such change in a proper column in the assessment books. * * * The value of lands and improvements shall be separately fixed, and shall in any assessment made hereafter be set down in separate columns in said assessor's books. The assessors shall not in any year, except the year of the quadrennial assessment, change the valuation of any real estate or improvements or the division thereof, except as above provided in this section,’ etc.

Appellee, to sustain the judgment, contends that the valuation for assessment purposes of the property in question in the quadrennial year 1927 to 1930, inclusive, was a lump sum assessment and was void for the failure of the assessor to value the land and improvements separately, and, the assessment being void, a subsequent board of review had a right to assess the same as omitted property, relying on People v. Birtman Electric Co., 359 Ill. 143, 194 N.E. 282. That case does not hold that a quadrennial assessment of improved real estate as a unit, instead of separately as to land and improvements, is void. The only question in that case was the power of the board of review to assess improvements as omitted property, it being conceded that the improvements on the property there involved were not assessed at the time of the quadrennial assessment in 1927. What was there said has no application to the inquiry in the instant case where the assessor's books expressly show that the property in question was assessed as improved property. A judicial opinion, like a judgment, must be read as applicable only to the facts involved and is an authority only for what is actually decided. White v. Seitz, 342 Ill. 266, 174 N.E. 371. It was pointed out in that case, that to arrive at an aggregate assessment on improved real estate it is the duty of the assessor to give consideration to the several items which constitute the entity. When this is done the assessment cannot be reviewed in a subsequent year, but if either the land itself or the buildings and improvements have been omitted, then that component part which was so omitted becomes a subject of assessment for taxation in a subsequent year. The assessment here in question shows total value as improved property.

From 1921 to 1930, inclusive, this property was assessed as improved real estate, but the valuations of the lands and of the improvements were not placed in separate columns but in one column as the total assessed value of real estate and improvements. It is conceded that the custom is, and has been for many years in Kane county...

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    ...a judgment, must be read as applicable only to the facts involved, and is an authority only for what is actually decided. People v. Chapman, 370 Ill. 430, 19 N.E.2d 351;White v. Seitz, 342 Ill. 266, 174 N.E. 371. The holding in the Chicago Motor Coach Co. case did not involve the question w......
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