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In Re Application of County Collector

JUNE 1, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. HARRY D. STROUSE, JR., Judge, presiding.


Knoll Development Company petitioned for an order directing the issuance of a tax deed based upon the purchase of delinquent real estate taxes at a 1968 tax sale. Notice was served on the owner on July 26, 1971, and published beginning on July 23, 1971. The John Allan Company, in whose name the property was last assessed, filed a "redemption under protest" pursuant to section 253 of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 120, par. 734), stating as the reason for the protest that the petitioner failed to serve notice in the form prescribed by sections 263 and 266 of the Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 120, pars. 744, 747.) Subsequently, on the date set for hearing on the petition for tax deed, the assessee John Allan Company petitioned the court to enter an order denying the tax deed, and refunding to the John Allan Company as assessee the $602.93 which was paid in redemption under protest, because of the failure of the tax buyer to give proper notices. The court found that the notice complied with the statute in effect prior to July 1, 1971, but was defective under the statute as amended, effective July 1, 1971. However, finding that the purchaser had attempted to comply with the law as he understood it, the court ordered the redemption money paid over to the tax deed petitioner. The John Allan Company appeals from this order.

On appeal, we must determine whether the notice was in fact defective and, if so, whether the trial court exceeded its authority in nevertheless ordering the redemption money paid to the petitioner.

• 1-3 Knoll contends that it succeeded to a vested right to serve notice under the law as it existed prior to July 1, 1971, by reason of its purchase of the certificate at the 1968 tax sale. Its reliance on Hogan v. Bleeker (1963), 29 Ill.2d 181, is misplaced. In Hogan, the court refused to give retroactive effect to a statutory amendment requiring institution of a suit to foreclose a special assessment lien within five years from the date of the sale and assignment. The amendment was passed more than five years after the sale in question, and prior to the amendment the statute allowed the bringing of a foreclosure suit "at any time". The court pointed out that the special assessment liens involved were marketable assets which plaintiffs could have sold for value and against the foreclosure of which there was no valid defense before the amendments. (page 190) However, a purchaser of delinquent taxes at a tax sale does not, by his purchase, acquire the same kind of marketable asset. Additionally, the application of the subsequently enacted statute of limitations in Hogan would, by its application, completely destroy the rights of the holder of the special assessment lien. Here, the change in notice requirements does not extend to destruction of an existing cause of action nor does it create a new liability for past events. The July 1st amendment changing the form of the notice therefore does not offend the Federal Constitution. (See Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp. (1949), 337 U.S. 541, 554.) Nor is the law of Illinois violated. The amendment of section 263 merely changed the procedure to be followed before a tax deed would issue, and contained no savings clause. There is no vested right in any particular remedy or method of procedure in the absence of such a clause. See Ogdon v. Gianakos (1953), 415 Ill. 591, 597. See also Nelson v. Miller (1957), 11 Ill.2d 378, 382-3; Orlicki v. McCarthy (1954), 4 Ill.2d 342, 345-8, 354.

• 4, 5 Knoll has also contended that the amendment of section 263 of the Revenue Act which was adopted on June 29, 1971, should not be applied as it was not yet in publication when the notice was sent and Knoll had no means of knowing about it. This, however, is no excuse. There is no provision in either the 1870 or 1970 Constitution that an act cannot take effect until it is published. (Ill. Const. 1870, art. IV, sec. 13; Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 10.) In the absence of such a provision the law needs no promulgation to take effect.

Under art. IV, sec. 10 of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 which became effective on July 1, 1971, the General Assembly was charged with providing by law for a uniform effective date for laws passed prior to July 1st of the calendar year. On July 2, 1971, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 131, par. 21 became effective, and provided:

"A law passed prior to July 1 of a calendar year and after June 30, 1971, shall become effective on October 1 following its becoming a law unless by its terms it specifically provides for a different effective date. A law passed prior to July 1, 1971, shall become effective on July 1, 1971, or upon its becoming a law, whichever is later, unless such law by its terms specifically provides for a different effective date." (Emphasis added.)

• 6, 7 Although the fact that a law takes effect immediately or, as here, in two days, undoubtedly creates some hardship, the decision of whether this hardship should be imposed rests wholly in the discretion of the law making body. The hardship created by the almost immediate effect given to the amendment does not render it invalid as an arbitrary or unreasonable exercise of power by the legislature. (Jacob Ruppert, Inc. v. Caffey (1920), 251 U.S. 264, 302, 64 L.Ed. 260, 40 S.Ct. 141, 150.) Knoll's reference to People ex rel. Ogilvie v. Lewis (1971), 49 Ill.2d 476, is inapposite. The case did not deal with the date on which an Act becomes effective, but rather concerned itself with the power of the legislature to pass an act in anticipation of an adopted but not yet effective constitutional provision.

• 8, 9 The trial court found that the petitioner's notice failed to comply with the requirements of the amended statute in the following ways:

1. The notice did not provide for the number of the certificate.

2. The notice did not carry in ten point type the following legends, "THIS PROPERTY HAS BEEN SOLD FOR DELINQUENT TAXES," and "YOU ARE URGED TO REDEEM IMMEDIATELY TO PREVENT LOSS OF PROPERTY."

3. The notice did not contain a statement showing the location of the property in addition to the legal description.

4. The notice did not contain the following: "This notice is also to advise you that a petition has been filed for a tax deed which will transfer title and the right to possession of the property if redemption is not made on or before October 29, 1971.

Redemption can be made at any time on or before October 29, 1971 by applying to the County Clerk of Lake County, Illinois, at the county courthouse in Waukegan, Illinois. For any ...

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