Stamford Jewish Center, Inc. v. Town of Stamford

Decision Date08 August 1933
Citation117 Conn. 379,168 A. 5
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Case Reserved from Superior Court, Fairfield County; Arthur F Ells, Judge.

Two appeals by the Stamford Jewish Center, Inc., from the Board of Relief of the defendant, Town of Stamford, which confirmed the action of assessors refusing to exempt plaintiff's property from taxation, each brought to the superior court the first to the first Tuesday of May, 1932, and the second to the first Tuesday of April, 1933. Both appeals were reserved for the advice of the Supreme Court.

Questions answered.

George Dimenstein, Joseph P. Zone, and Michael Wofsey, all of Stamford, for plaintiff.

Thomas J. Ryle, of Stamford, for defendant.

Argued before MALTBIE, C.J., and HAINES, HINMAN, BANKS, and AVERY JJ.

HAINES, Judge.

The stipulation shows the plaintiff to be a corporation without capital stock, organized May 22, 1914, under the statute law of this state. The purposes of its organization were stated at length in the second of its articles of association and in articles 2 and 3 of its by-laws, all as appears in the footnote hereto.[1] All of its property both real and personal is now used exclusively for charitable, educational, and religious purposes, including four bowling alleys for the use of which a charge is made, with no accruing profit to the organization: an auditorium used by organizations which are members of the plaintiff organization, admission fees sometimes being charged, but no part of such fees are paid to the plaintiff, and a gymnasium and a swimming pool for the exclusive use of plaintiff's members, without charge. The funds with which all the property of the plaintiff was acquired were provided by gifts contributed by the general public for the stated purposes of the plaintiff. The funds for the maintenance and operation of the plaintiff and all its activities were and are obtained in part by members and in part as a member agency of the Stamford Community Chest, Inc., and all its funds are used exclusively for its enumerated purposes. None of the plaintiff's officers or employees have received, or do now receive, any pecuniary profit from the organization save as reasonable compensation for services rendered to it. The original articles and by-laws are silent as to the enjoyment of any such pecuniary profit in the future.

Lists of its property were filed by the plaintiff with the assessors of Stamford in October, 1931, and October, 1932, as prescribed by law, and similar lists were filed with the tax commissioner, claiming all such property was exempt from taxation under the statute, Rev. 1930, § 1163. Upon the refusal of the assessors to allow the exemption, the plaintiff appealed to the board of relief, where the action of the assessors was confirmed, and the plaintiff then appealed to the superior court, where both cases were then reserved for consideration by this court. The answers to all the questions submitted to us may be found in the solution of a single question: Is the plaintiff's property exempt from taxation under the provisions of the statute?

The defendant's argument against the exemption is based upon two contentions: (1) That the specified purposes of the plaintiff organization show that it was not " organized exclusively for scientific, educational, literary, historical or charitable purposes or for two or more such purposes" within the requirements for exemption specified in subsection 7 of section 1163, and (2) that it does not appear that " no officer, member or employee *** shall *** at any future time receive any pecuniary profit ** except reasonable compensation for services, ***" within the purpose and intent of (a) of subsection 7 of section 1163.

The claim of the plaintiff that it is a corporation within the class above specified must be examined in the light of the underlying theory and intent of our legislation in exempting certain corporations from the payment of taxes. In 1902 (General Statutes, § 2315) these exemptions were granted under specified conditions to colleges, academies, churches, public schoolhouses, infirmaries, and parsonages, as well as buildings used exclusively for scientific, literary, benevolent, or ecclesiastical purposes. We said of these provisions that their object was not to exempt private property used for private purposes, but property public or private which has been sequestrated or devoted to the service of the public. Churches and colleges have always been considered as ministering to public use. Brunswick School v. Town & Borough of Greenwich, 88 Conn. 241, 243, 245, 90 A. 801; Pomfret School v. Pomfret. 105 Conn. 456, 459, 136 A. 88. And of somewhat similar provisions in General Statutes, § 3820, of the Revision of 1888: " This ** does not exempt any individuals from the burden of taxation that is common to all It does not grant to one particular privileges denied to all others. It declares that lands and buildings sequestered to certain public uses-i. e. taken out of the body of private property, and devoted exclusively to the common good, from which no individual can derive any profit-are not taxable property. And this has been, not the exception, but the rule, from the foundation of our government." Yale University v. New Haven, 71 Conn. 316, 329, 42 A. 87, 91, 43 L.R.A. 490.

Under chapter 109 of the Public Acts of 1921, which exempted " academies" as well as " public schoolhouses," a private school claimed exemption as an " academy," and we held it incumbent upon the plaintiff to establish that its property was " taken out of the body of private property and devoted exclusively to the common good." Pomfret School v. Pomfret, 105 Conn. 456, 459, 136 A. 88, 80. It was found as to that school that " it is not the purpose of the school to give gratuitous instruction nor does it admit pupils except upon the terms, ***" and a charge was made for each pupil. We said it was not a public institution, " ‘ offering instruction therein to all comers, but it is a private school calculated, manifestly, to interest only those who have the means and disposition to separate their children from the public schools.’ The situation presented is not in accord with the conception of public education and public benefit which is at the root of the exemption claimed-the performance, though by private persons, of functions which otherwise would devolve upon the state or municipal government." And we added: " It is evident that the uses made of the property in question are not public in the sense contemplated in order to entitle it to exemption from taxation." Pomfret School v. Pomfret, supra, 105 Conn. at page 460, 136 A. 88, 89. It appeared in that case that pecuniary profit was not sought or obtained by the operation of the school, yet there was nothing in its constitution to preclude it from making a profit. The exemption was denied.

In a later case the plaintiff, a nonstock corporation, was conducting a boarding school for girls, and a tuition fee was charged, and there was no provision in its...

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6 cases
  • Lyman v. Adorno
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • April 10, 1947
    ...performs in a government such as ours. Blodgett v. Bridgeport City Trust Co., 115 Conn. 127, 135, 161 A. 83; Stamford Jewish Center, Inc., v. Stamford, 117 Conn. 379, 383, 168 A. 5; Masonic Building Ass'n v. Stamford, 119 Conn. 53, 61, 174 A. 301. It should also be remembered that the publi......
  • Legat v. Adorno
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 24, 1951
    ...but property public or private which has been sequestrated or devoted to the service of the public.' Stamford Jewish Center, Inc. v. Stamford, 117 Conn. 379, 383, 168 A. 5, 6. It is also apparent from the foregoing authorities that the limitation on the expenditure of public funds enunciate......
  • Chase Nat. Bank of City of New York v. Schleussner
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 8, 1933
    ... ... Maguire, all of Stamford, for defendants Matilda H ... Schleussner et ... ...
  • Forman Sch. Inc. v. Town Of Litchfield.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 9, 1947
    ...of the plaintiff not exempt, solely because the requirements of proviso (a) in the statute were not met. In Stanford Jewish Center, Inc., v. Stamford, 117 Conn. 379, 385, 168 A. 5, 7, we said, in holding the property of the plaintiff not exempt: ‘Considered as a school, this is not a public......
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