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Macmurray College v. Wright

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 29, 1967.

MACMURRAY COLLEGE, APPELLEE,

v.

HAROLD E. WRIGHT, COUNTY COLLECTOR, APPELLANT. — THE PEOPLE EX REL. LELAND J. NORDLUND, COUNTY COLLECTOR, APPELLANT,

v.

ROCKFORD COLLEGE, APPELLEE.



No. 40323 — APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Morgan County; the Hon. WILLIAM H. CHAMBERLAIN, Judge, presiding.

No. 40398 — APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. JOHN S. GHENT, JR., Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 27, 1967.

WILLIAM R. NASH, State's Attorney, of Rockford, (WILLIAM H. GATES, Assistant State's Attorney, of counsel,) for appellant.

WILLIAMS, McCARTHY, KINLEY & RUDY, of Rockford, (ELMER C. RUDY and KARL C. WILLIAMS, of counsel,) for appellee.

CANEL & CANEL, of Chicago, (JAY A. CANEL and ERWIN I. KATZ, of counsel,) for amicus curiae Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.

We have consolidated two appeals, both presenting the question whether certain properties used as housing for members of the faculties and staffs of the appellee colleges qualify for tax exemption.

MacMurray College, an appellee, filed a complaint in the circuit court of Morgan County seeking a judgment declaring that its faculty and staff housing facilities are exempt from taxation and an order enjoining the collection of 1965 real-estate taxes on the property. The trial court entered a decree declaring the property concerned exempt from taxation and granting the injunction. Rockford College, also an appellee, filed objections in the circuit court of Winnebago County to the county collector's application for judgment for delinquent real-estate taxes for the years 1961 to 1963, inclusive, against the college's property used as a faculty and staff housing facility. Finding the property to be tax exempt, the trial court sustained the objections and ordered a refund of all taxes which Rockford College had previously paid under protest. In each suit the basis of the court's holding was that the housing facilities were used exclusively for school purposes and were not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit by the colleges. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, chap. 120, par. 500.1.

The tax collectors, appellants, have proceeded directly to this court, both the revenue and the constitutionality of a statute being involved.

MacMurray College, a corporation not for profit, is a private liberal arts college located in Jacksonville, Illinois. Nine tracts of land owned by the college are in question here. Eight of the tracts are adjacent to the college's campus and are improved with frame residential dwellings. The ninth tract is approximately four blocks from the campus and is improved with a new eight-unit apartment building. All the dwellings were occupied by members of MacMurray's faculty and staff. During 1965, MacMurray had 245 faculty and staff members, 30 of whom lived in the housing facility. Rockford College, a not-for-profit corporation, is a privately endowed college in Rockford, Illinois. Concerned here are thirteen tracts of land owned by the college and improved with residential dwellings. All the tracts adjoin the old campus of the college, save for one tract located a few blocks away. The dwellings were occupied solely by members of Rockford's faculty and administrative, clerical and maintenance staff, except for one tenant not related to the college in 1962 and two such tenants in 1963. During the period in question the college had a faculty and staff of about 144, of whom 24 at most lived in the college-provided dwellings. Neither MacMurray nor Rockford College leases the property concerned with a view to profit.

Section 3 of article IX of the Illinois constitution of 1870 provides that such "property as may be used exclusively for agricultural and horticultural societies, for school, religious, cemetery and charitable purposes may be exempted from taxation; but such exemption shall be only by general law." Legislation implementing this provision of exemption has been in effect since 1872. The predecessor to the section of the Revenue Act to be considered here was enacted in 1939 and remained in force until 1959. It exempted from taxation "all property of schools, including the real estate on which the schools are located and any other real estate used by such schools exclusively for school purposes, not leased by such schools or otherwise used with a view to profit; * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1939, chap. 120, par. 500; see also Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 120, par. 500.

In 1959 the Revenue Act was amended, section 19.1 now exempting from taxation "all property of schools, including the real estate on which the schools are located and any other real or personal property used by such schools exclusively for school purposes, not leased by such schools or otherwise used with a view to profit, including, but not limited to, student residence halls, dormitories and other housing facilities for students and their spouses and children, and staff housing facilities * * *." (Italics added to denote pertinent changes.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, chap. 120, par. 500.1.

The appellant Nordlund contends that the 1959 amendment is unconstitutional because through it the legislature sought to expand the boundaries of exemption established by the constitution. The appellees and the amicus curiae, however, argue that the legislature in enacting the statute permissibly declared that property used for staff housing was property used exclusively for school purposes and tax exempt.

It is fundamental that the General Assembly cannot enlarge the area of tax exemption authorized by the constitution. This court has said: "It has been long held that section 3 of article IX of the Illinois constitution of 1870 is not self-executing and requires a statute to provide the exemption. However, the statute cannot be made broader than the provisions of the constitution and no property except that mentioned in the section ...


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