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People Ex Rel. Ruchty v. Saad

OPINION FILED JANUARY 24, 1952.

THE PEOPLE EX REL. GEORGE E. RUCHTY, JR., COUNTY COLLECTOR, APPELLANT,

v.

EDWARD J. SAAD, APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the County Court of Du Page County; the Hon. RUSSELL W. KEENEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 17, 1952.

This case, involving revenue, is appealed by the county collector of Du Page County, on behalf of the People, from the county court of the same county. The county court sustained objections of certain taxpayers upon the collector's application for judgment and sale for delinquent taxes of the year 1947, and the People have appealed directly to this court.

The particular case in which judgment was entered and appeal taken involved the property of Edward J. Saad, one of 3352 individual taxpayers who raise the same objection, and it was stipulated that the hearing should be upon the Saad case, and the same judgment rendered for the other objectors.

The point presented for determination is the validity of the order of the Department of Revenue of the State of Illinois in equalizing the assessed value of property in Du Page County by raising it 20.48% to make the assessed value an estimated full 100% of fair cash value.

The objections to the assessments after they had been equalized by the Department of Revenue are, first, that said Department acted arbitrarily without a hearing or notice and deprived objector of due process of law; second, that the valuations placed upon the property as revised by the Department of Revenue are based upon supposed resale values, whereas the assessment or value of real estate owned by railroads is fixed and determined on a basis wherein resale value is not considered; and, thirdly, that the Department of Revenue did not increase the assessed value of railroad property by the same factor, whereby the equalized assessment was discriminatory and arbitrary.

The county court, after a full hearing, entered a judgment sustaining the objections for the following reasons: First, that the Department of Revenue in equalizing the assessments in Du Page County relied upon incompetent and insufficient evidence; second, that the Department of Revenue in establishing the equalization factor acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and, third, that the Department of Revenue in establishing the equalization factor for Du Page County failed and neglected to classify or differentiate between property of various classes, to-wit, personal property and real property and vacant property, and, thereupon, the objection, so far as it applied to taxes levied upon a valuation in excess of that made by the local assessor, was sustained.

It is apparent at once that the decision in this case will affect the equalization of assessed values by the Department of Revenue in every county in the State, since the statute required the equalization factor of each county to be certified to every county and the tax rates computed by the county clerks upon the assessed values as finally determined after the application of the equalization factor. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1947, chap. 120, par. 632.

The collector assigned numerous errors to the decision and judgment of the county court, which require a consideration of the purpose, method, and result of equalization as required by the constitution and implemented by statute.

Section 1 of article IX of the constitution provides for property taxes based upon valuations, and excise or privilege taxes as provided by acts of the legislature. Property taxes must be by valuations so that every person shall pay a tax in proportion to the value of his property. Excise taxes can be levied by the authority of the General Assembly as it shall direct by general law, uniform as to the class upon which the tax operates.

It has been repeatedly held that the constitution imposes a mandatory duty upon the taxing authorities, which is executed through various bodies created by the General Assembly, such as the State Board of Equalization, the Tax Commission, and, at present, by the Department of Revenue. The names of these bodies created to equalize taxes has changed from time to time, but their duties, with slight changes, have remained substantially the same since the adoption of the constitution. The duty of the Department of Revenue is prescribed in section 146 of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1947, chap. 120, par. 627,) as follows:

"The Department shall act as an equalizing authority. It shall examine the abstracts of property assessed for taxation in the several counties as returned by the county clerks and shall equalize the assessments as in this Act provided. The Department shall lower or raise the total assessed value of property in any county as returned by the county clerk so that such property will be assessed at its full, fair cash value.

"By means of a comparison of assessed valuations, as revised by boards of review or boards of appeals, as the case may be, and estimated full, fair cash values established through the analysis of property transfers, property appraisals, and such other means as it deems proper and reasonable, the Department shall annually ascertain and determine the percentage relationship, for each county of the State, between the valuations at which locally-assessed property is listed by assessors and revised by boards of review or board of appeals, as the case may be, and the estimated full, fair cash value of such property.

"With the ratio so ascertained and determined for each county, the Department shall then ascertain the amount to be added to or deducted from the aggregate reviewed assessment on property subject to local assessment jurisdiction in order to produce a ratio of ...


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