APPEAL from the County Court of Fulton County; the Hon.
FRANCIS P. MURPHY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE HERSHEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied March 27, 1961.
This is a proceeding on application of the county collector of Fulton County for judgment for delinquent taxes for the year 1958. Some 210 objectors had paid their taxes under protest, objecting to the validity of the 1958 quadrennial assessment. The objections were overruled and the court entered appropriate orders for the sale of certain of the lands and for disposition of the tax funds paid under protest. A post-trial motion for judgment was overruled. This appeal is from the above-stated orders of the county court.
Although there was some testimony offered and received, together with some exhibits, a stipulation of facts constitutes the bulk of the record in this case. This stipulation discloses that the various township assessors in Fulton County undertook the assessment of real property and on dates varying from May 12, 1958, to August 4, 1958, these township assessors completed their assessments and turned their township assessment books over to the supervisor of assessments.
The assessments as made by the township assessors as to the objectors were all increased by the supervisor of assessments.
The township assessment books were turned over by the supervisor of assessments to the board of review of the county, beginning on July 18, 1958, for the first township, and ending on September 15, 1958, for the last of the townships. Publication of all assessments was made by the supervisor of assessments, commencing on July 31, 1958, and ending with the last publication of assessments on October 2, 1958.
On May 6, 1958, the board of review of the county was organized and commenced upon its duties. The board stayed in session, hearing complaints and acting as a board of review until December 17, 1958. Some 23 of the objectors appeared as complainants before the board. The balance of the objectors did not request hearings or otherwise appear before the board. All objectors paid 100% of their real-estate taxes under protest prior to June 1, 1959.
On October 1, 1959, the county collector, after notice and publication, made application for judgment on delinquent taxes. The objections to the 1958 assessment were on file with the court. The assessment is sought to be declared void as depriving the taxpayers of their property without due process, since, it is contended, no opportunity was given for a hearing before a validly constituted board of review that was legally in session.
It is further contended that any publication of assessments after July 10, 1958, was not a valid publication, as is required by the appropriate statutory provisions, and, further, that the publication of assessments, even if otherwise valid, was late, being published after the deadline for filing complaints before the board of review.
The statutory plan for the assessment of real estate for taxing purposes in counties of the size of Fulton contemplates that the assessment shall be made in the first instance by the township assessor. Thereafter, the supervisor of assessments has the same authority as the township assessor to assess and to make changes or alterations in the assessment of the property as made by the township assessors. All changes and alteration in the assessment of real property, as, indeed, is the original assessment, are subject to revision by the board of review. The taxpayer's right to appear before the board of review and be heard as to the correctness of his assessment is after the assessment list is required by law to be published, in accordance with the provisions of section 103 of the Revenue Act of 1939. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1959, chap. 120, par. 584.
A review of the applicable statutory provisions indicates that in quadrennial assessment years the supervisor of assessments is required to publish a full and complete list of the assessments of the real and personal property by townships as soon as he has completed the assessment. In other years, the supervisor of assessments is required to publish the assessment of personal property in full and a list of real estate for which assessments have been added or changed since the last preceding assessment, together with the amounts of the assessments on such real estate. Such publication shall be made on or before July 10 of that year in counties with less than 150,000 inhabitants. The foregoing statutory provision, being essentially the language of section 103 of the Revenue Act of 1939, is the statutory provision which, in the view of the objectors, requires publication of the quadrennial assessment on or before July 10 of the assessment year. It seems clear, however, from a reading of the language with reference to the requirement for publication, that in quadrennial years the supervisor of assessments is required to publish as soon as he has completed the assessment. As to other years, the assessment is required to be made on or before July 10.
It has been held that the foregoing section imposes a mandatory duty to make publication and that the appropriate official can be compelled to perform that duty by mandamus, although the statutory time for the performance thereof has passed. (People ex rel. Rentschler v. Walsh, 334 Ill. App. 519.) It has further been held, however, that there is no constitutional requirement for the publication of a tax assessment list and that the legislature has the power to waive the publication if it sees fit so to do. (People v. Holmstrom, 8 Ill.2d 401.) This last-cited case involved personal property assessment lists.
In the case of Dietman v. Hunter, 5 Ill.2d 486, we held that due process of law requires only that a property owner be given notice and opportunity to be heard upon the valuation of his property at some point in the taxing process before his liability to pay the tax becomes conclusively established. In this connection, we there stated: "The requirements of due process are satisfied by a law which affords an opportunity to be heard with respect to assessments before the board of review. `But a law prescribing a time when complaints will be heard before the board of review is all the notice that is required. [Citation.] If the law secured to the defendant a hearing after the assessment was in fact made, of which he had notice by the statute, that would be sufficient.' (Carney v. People, 210 Ill. 434, 440; cf. Hagar v. Reclamation District No. 108, Ill U.S. 710; People v. International Salt Co. 233 Ill. 223; People v. Shirk, 252 Ill. 95.)"
Thus, it would appear that the duty to publish is a duty that can be enforced by mandamus, but that publication and notice is not required in order to meet the requirements of due process, if, by some means, the taxpayer has sufficient notice and opportunity of a hearing. The provision for the publication of a tax assessment list found in section 103 of the Revenue Act of 1939, above discussed, is a means of affording taxpayers notice as to the amount of their assessments. The requirement there found as to quadrennial years contemplates the publication as soon as the taxing process has been completed, and the July 10 date obviously relates to years other than quadrennial assessment years, and the ...