People v. Pullman Car & Mfg. Corp.

Decision Date23 February 1934
Docket NumberNo. 22147.,22147.
Citation189 N.E. 278,355 Ill. 438
CourtIllinois Supreme Court


Action by the People against the Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corporation. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appeals.


Appeal from Circuit Court, Cook County; S. H. Klarkowski, judge.

Thomas J. Courtney, State's Atty., of Chicago (Hayden N. Bell, Manuel E. Cowen, Robert S. Cushman, and Jacob Shamberg, all of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

Winston, Strawn & Shaw, of Chicago (Silas H. Strawn, Ralph M. Shaw, J. Sidney Condit, and Reuben A. Borsch, all of Chicago, of counsel), for appellee.

JONES, Justice.

An assessment of $5,200,000 was made by the board of assessors of Cook county against the personal property of appellee, the Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corporation. A complaint was filed by the corporation with the board of review alleging that the valuation was excessive. The board of review confirmed the assessment, and taxes were extended thereon in the sum of $350,480. The corporation paid the county collector $125,000, and refused to pay the balance of $225,480. An action of debt was instituted in the circuit court of Cook county for the recovery of the balance, and the corporation filed a plea of nil debet. The trial court found the issues for the defendant, and entered judgment accordingly. The cause is here on appeal.

A brief statement of the method prescribed by law for listing and assessing personal property is as follows: The tax commission shall prescribe or approve the form of blanks for schedules, documents, and records authorized or required by law and relating to the assessment of property. All assessing officers shall use true copies of such blank forms. Smith-Hurd Rev. St. 1933, c. 120, § 339, Cahill's Rev. St. 1933, c. 120, par. 107. The assessor shall furnish to each person required to list personal property a printed blank form as prescribed by the tax commission, and the assessor or his deputy shall annually call at the office, place of doing business, or residence of each person so required to list personal property, and shall cause such person to make a correct statement of his taxable property according to designated classifications as indicated by the blank form of schedule. The schedule shall be signed and sworn to by the person listing the property and then delivered to the assessor, who shall thereupon assess the value of such property and enter the valuation in his books. Smith-Hurd Rev. St. 1933, c. 120, § 295, Cahill's Rev. St. 1933, c. 120, par. 327. The property owner has nothing to do with fixing the values of such property. That duty devolves upon the assessor.

The evidence in this case shows that the tax commission prescribed a form of schedule classifying personal property for assessment purposes under forty separate descriptive heads. Thirty-nine classifications are quite definite in their specifications of the kind and character of personal property to be listed. The fortieth item is intended to embrace property not designated by other classifications, and is denominated ‘all other personal property required to be listed.’ Each classification is given a separate column in the blank form. The assessor's books are provided with like columns and designations.

The corporation received a schedule and returned it to the board of assessors with nothing written on it except the signature of the corporation and the figures 5,000,000, preceded by the dollar mark. The figures were not placed opposite any of the forty classified items of personal property, but were written at the bottom of column 2. This column is entitled, ‘Full Fair Cash Value.’ The schedule was not sworn to. The board of assessors did not require the corporation to make a statement of its taxable property in accordance with the provisions of the law, but it acted upon the schedule as though it contained an itemization of the kind and character of the corporation's personal property. It made an assessment and entered it as a column 40 item-that is to say, in the column entitled ‘All Other Personal Property Required to be Listed.’ The amount of the assessment was $5,200,000. No assessment was made against the corporation as owner of any property described in any of the other thirty-nine classifications. It is apparent that, if the corporation owned any property which should have been listed under those classifications, it was neither listed nor assessed. The assessment which was actually made was against property of a different kind and character than was included in any such classifications.

On the trial of this cause in the circuit court, the plaintiff made a prima facie case by showing the assessment and the extension of a tax and the failure to pay a portion of it. The corporation's theory of defense is that there was in effect a rule of the board of assessors and the board of review requiring the assessing bodies to take into consideration an equalizing factor of 37 per cent., which is shown to mean that, when the full fair cash value of any item of personal property has been determined, its assessed value is entered at 37 per cent. thereof; that in this case the equalizing factor was not employed, and the assessed value was fixed at the same amount as the full fair cash value, thereby making a grossly excessive assessment against the defendant's property; that the assessment is what is known as a ‘lump sum’ assessment and was void; and that, if the assessment is not to be considered a lump sum...

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5 cases
  • People v. Commonwealth Edison Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • December 8, 1937
    ...included in column 40. The assessment of defendant's property in column 40 was grossly excessive and void. People v. Pullman Car & Manf. Corp., 355 Ill. 438, 441, 189 N.E. 278;People v. Crowe Name Plate & Mfg. Co., 357 Ill. 384, 192 N.E. 208. The People urge that because the defendant paid ......
  • People v. McGraw Elec. Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • December 12, 1940
    ...or information, he had no right to make such assessment, since to do so would be on mere chance or conjecture. People v. Pullman Car & Manf. Corp., 355 Ill. 438, 189 N.E. 278. In People v. Crowe Name Plate Co., 357 Ill. 384, 192 N.E. 208, it was held that where the property owner makes no r......
  • People v. Crowe Name Plate & Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • October 5, 1934
    ... ... People v. Pullman Car & Mfg. Corp., 355 Ill. 438, 189 N. E. 278;Holt v. Hendee, 248 Ill. 288, 93 N. E. 749,21 Ann. Cas. 202. In this case appellant's secretary ... ...
  • People ex rel. McDonough v. Birtman Elec. Co.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • February 12, 1935
    ...listing and assessment of separate items of personal property under forms and schedules prescribed by law. Thus, in People v. Pullman Car Corp., 355 Ill. 438, 189 N.E. 278, we held that personal property is ultimately assessed as a unit; nevertheless a lump sum assessment is void because of......
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