State v. Wabash R. Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGantt
PartiesSTATE ex rel. WYATT v. WABASH R. CO. et al.
Decision Date31 January 1893
21 S.W. 26
114 Mo. 1
STATE ex rel. WYATT
v.
WABASH R. CO. et al.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 2.
January 31, 1893.

ENFORCEMENT OF TAX LIEN — DESCRIPTION IN ASSESSMENT — SUFFICIENCY.

1. In an action against a railroad company to enforce a tax lien, it appeared that the property was described in the assessment, tax bill, and petition as "the undivided half of G.'s addition to the city of K., except all that part thereof assessed by the state board of equalization." The state board had assessed as the property of defendant in said city three tenths of a mile of track and buildings. The tracks of several railroad companies ran through the addition. Held, that the court erred in admitting parol evidence as to how many lots there were in the addition, how the lots were numbered, and how many were occupied by the railroad tracks, since, under Rev. St. §§ 7555, 7552, the assessment of real estate must contain an accurate description thereof by the smallest legal subdivisions to make it the basis of taxation; and since, it not appearing whether the state board assessed defendant's property adjacent to the track, as it had a right to do, the exception in the assessment in question renders it too uncertain to be the legitimate basis of a tax proceeding.

2. In another count the property to be charged was described in the assessment, tax bill, and petition as "all of lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, block 28," lying outside of the right of way, W. K. addition No. 1. Plaintiff's witness testified that the lots were all cut up by railroad tracks, but whose tracks they were he could not tell. Held, that defendant's objection to the admission of any evidence to support the petition should have been sustained, since the assessment and tax bill were too uncertain, and the testimony offered rendered the description still more uncertain.

Appeal from circuit court, Jackson county; James Gibson, Judge.

Action by the state on the relation of Frank C. Wyatt against the Wabash Railroad Company and others to enforce a lien of the state for certain taxes. Judgment for plaintiff. Defendant appeals. Reversed.

[21 S.W. 27]

F. W. Lehmann and Geo. S. Grover, for appellant. Gates & Wallace, for respondent.

GANTT, P. J.


This is an action to enforce the lien of the state for certain taxes alleged to be due and owing on certain real estate belonging to defendant in Jackson county. The taxes for which the action is brought are for the years 1886, 1887, and 1888. The petition contains 10 counts, but, inasmuch as the court rendered a final judgment for defendant on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th counts, and plaintiff voluntarily dismissed as to the 10th count, the appeal involves only the rulings of the court on the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 5th counts, on which the court gave judgment in the aggregate for $1,047.85. The 1st, 2d, and 3d counts declare for taxes of 1886, 1887, and 1888, respectively, on property described in the assessment, tax bill, and petition as "the undivided half of Gillis' addition to the city of Kansas, Jackson county, Missouri, except all that part thereof returned to and assessed by the state board of equalization." The 4th and 5th counts seek to collect taxes for the years 1886 and 1887, respectively, on property described in the assessment and tax bill as "all lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, block 28, lying outside of the right of way, West Kansas addition No. 1," and in the petition in the same manner, with the addition of the words "of defendant" after "right of way." The answer was a general denial of each and every count. A jury was waived, and the cause tried to the court as a jury. For a better understanding the discussion will apply to the taxes on each tract separately.

Considering, then, first, the first three counts. The action is for the taxes of 1886, 1887, and 1888, on "the undivided half of Gillis' addition to the city of Kansas, in Jackson county, Missouri, except all that part thereof returned to and assessed by the state board of equalization." At the trial the defendant objected to any evidence in support of the petition, because the description in the petition was too vague and indefinite to support a tax or judgment therefor. This objection was overruled. Then plaintiff offered a tax bill, certified by the collector, containing the same description. Defendant renewed its objection to the evidence as too uncertain, indefinite, and vague to sustain a judgment, and it was overruled. Plaintiff then offered Frank Knight, an employe in the assessor's office, and, over the objection of defendant, the court permitted this witness to state verbally how many lots there were in Gillis' addition, and their numbers, being Nos. 1 to 17, inclusive, and 25, 26, and 27. Also what part of the addition was occupied by railroad tracks. The defendant objected to this, on the ground that defendant's liability must be measured by the assessment, and that it was not competent or permissible to supply a description by parol. The defendant duly saved its exceptions to these several rulings. The plaintiff offered in evidence the printed journals of the state board of equalization, which showed that for each of the years 1886, 1887, and 1888 said board had assessed as property of defendant in Kansas township, Kansas City, three tenths of a mile of track at a valuation of $13,024.90 per mile, and buildings at $4,000, for the year 1886, and the same property at substantially the same valuation in 1887 and 1888.

1. By section 7718 of the Revised Statutes of 1889, railroad companies are required to annually return to the state auditor, "in detail, the total length of their road in this state, including branch or leased roads; the length of double and side tracks, with depots, watertanks, and turntables; the mileage of road and side tracks in each county, township, city, town, or village through which it is located; also all rolling stock. By section 7728 all railroad property, both real and personal, not described in section 7718, is subject to local assessment and...

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19 practice notes
  • Natl. Cemetery Assn. v. Benson, No. 35564.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 14, 1939
    ...Seerley, 329 Mo. 1237, 49 S.W. (2d) 162.] A valid assessment is essential to a valid tax. In State ex rel. Wyatt v. Wabash Railway Company, 114 Mo. 1, 21 S.W. 26, we quoted from Philadelphia v. Miller, 49 Pa. St. 440: "Where the assessment wholly fails to lead to identification, so that nei......
  • State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Gehner, No. 29936.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • April 8, 1930
    ...void." City of Hannibal v. Bowman, 98 Mo. App. 109. See, also, State ex rel. v. Lesser, 237 Mo. 318; State ex rel. Wyatt v. Ry. Co., 114 Mo. 1; State ex rel. v. Thompson, 149 Mo. 441. (6) "The failure of the taxpayer to give in his list is the basis and condition precedent to any authority ......
  • Juden v. Grant et al., No. 23409.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 3, 1935
    ...v. Ekey, 82 Mo. 286; State ex rel. v. Burrough, 174 Mo. 700; State ex rel. v. Sanford, 127 Mo. 368, 372; State ex rel. v. Wabash Ry. Co., 114 Mo. 1; State ex rel. v. Hamilton, 293 S.W. 378; State ex rel. v. Linney, 192 Mo. 49; O'Day v. McDaniel, 181 Mo. 529; Ross v. Ross, 83 Mo. 100. (6) It......
  • City of Higginsville, Mo., v. Alton Railroad Co., No. 20169.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 1943
    ...is too inadequate in description and is not definite and certain, to constitute an accurate and correct description. Wyatt v. Wabash R.R., 114 Mo. 1, 26 S.W. 26, 29, which mentions a railroad right-of-way as not being fixed or definite. See also, Flentge v. Burroughs (Mo. App.), 74 S.W. 610......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Natl. Cemetery Assn. v. Benson, No. 35564.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 14, 1939
    ...Seerley, 329 Mo. 1237, 49 S.W. (2d) 162.] A valid assessment is essential to a valid tax. In State ex rel. Wyatt v. Wabash Railway Company, 114 Mo. 1, 21 S.W. 26, we quoted from Philadelphia v. Miller, 49 Pa. St. 440: "Where the assessment wholly fails to lead to identification, so that nei......
  • State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Gehner, No. 29936.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • April 8, 1930
    ...void." City of Hannibal v. Bowman, 98 Mo. App. 109. See, also, State ex rel. v. Lesser, 237 Mo. 318; State ex rel. Wyatt v. Ry. Co., 114 Mo. 1; State ex rel. v. Thompson, 149 Mo. 441. (6) "The failure of the taxpayer to give in his list is the basis and condition precedent to any authority ......
  • Juden v. Grant et al., No. 23409.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 3, 1935
    ...v. Ekey, 82 Mo. 286; State ex rel. v. Burrough, 174 Mo. 700; State ex rel. v. Sanford, 127 Mo. 368, 372; State ex rel. v. Wabash Ry. Co., 114 Mo. 1; State ex rel. v. Hamilton, 293 S.W. 378; State ex rel. v. Linney, 192 Mo. 49; O'Day v. McDaniel, 181 Mo. 529; Ross v. Ross, 83 Mo. 100. (6) It......
  • City of Higginsville, Mo., v. Alton Railroad Co., No. 20169.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 1943
    ...is too inadequate in description and is not definite and certain, to constitute an accurate and correct description. Wyatt v. Wabash R.R., 114 Mo. 1, 26 S.W. 26, 29, which mentions a railroad right-of-way as not being fixed or definite. See also, Flentge v. Burroughs (Mo. App.), 74 S.W. 610......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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