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Elk Grove Engineering Co. v. Korzen

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 1, 1973.

ELK GROVE ENGINEERING CO. ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

BERNARD KORZEN, COUNTY TREASURER, ET AL., APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RAYMOND S. SARNOW, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 28, 1973.

The Director of the Department of Local Government Affairs of the State of Illinois and various officials of Cook County appeal directly to this court under Rule 302(a) (50 Ill.2d R. 302) from three judgments of the circuit court of Cook County holding unconstitutional three sections of the Revenue Act of 1939.

In the first case, plaintiffs, Elk Grove Engineering Co., a corporation, and Nick DeLuca, doing business as Alex Theatre, a sole proprietorship, "individually and for the class of non-farm users and owners of tangible personal property," naming as defendants the treasurer, clerk and assessor of Cook County, and the director of the Department of Local Government Affairs of the State of Illinois, filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that subparagraph (a) of the personal-property paragraph of section 18 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 120, par. 499) was unconstitutional as violative of section 2 of article I, and section 13 of article IV of the Illinois constitution, and the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

In the second case, plaintiff, James Celli, "individually and in a representative capacity on behalf of all other Illinois taxpayers similarly situated," naming as defendants the same parties as are so designated in the first case and the members of the Board of Tax Appeals of Cook County, filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that sections 51.5 through 51.6 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 120, pars. 532.1-532.6) were unconstitutional as violative of section 5(c) of article IX of the Illinois constitution, and the fourteenth amendment to the Federal constitution.

In the third case, plaintiff, Elk Grove Engineering Company, "individually and for the class of corporate and non-residential users and owners of tangible personal property," in an action directed against the same defendants as are named in the first case, sought a declaratory judgment that subparagraph (b) of the personal-property paragraph of section 18 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 120, par. 499) was unconstitutional as violative of section 2 of article I, and section 5(c) of article IX of the Illinois constitution and the fourteenth amendment to the Federal constitution, or alternatively that section 19.21a of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 120, par. 500.21a) was unconstitutional "in its offensiveness to both the 1870 and 1970 Constitutions of the State of Illinois and that of the United States."

In each case the defendants moved to strike and dismiss the complaints, and, following consideration of briefs and argument, the circuit court held that the plaintiffs had standing to bring the actions in their own behalf and as proper representatives of a class, that each action was properly maintained as a class action and the members of the class were adequately and competently represented, and that the statutes attacked were unconstitutional. Pursuant to stipulation between the parties, the circuit court ordered the cases consolidated for purposes of appeal. All of the defendants appeal from the judgments in the first and second cases, but in the third case only the county officials have appealed.

Section 18 of the Revenue Act of 1939 provides in pertinent part:

"The classes of property named in this section shall be assessed and taxed except so much thereof as may be, in this Act, exempted:

First: All real property in this state.

Second: All personal property in this State except the following classes thereof:

(a) All tangible personal property which is used by the owner thereof exclusively in cultivating, operating or managing a farm or in the business of farming in this State. * * *

(b) Household furniture used for the personal living purposes of the owner at his residence and one automobile used for personal pleasure purposes, per household." Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 120, par. 499.

Section 51.1 provides in pertinent part:

"Every taxpayer, individual or corporate, shall be allowed a standard deduction not to exceed $5,000 from the assessed valuation of his, her or its personal property, as equalized or assessed by the Department of Local Government Affairs. * * *" Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 120, par. 532.1.

Section 5 of article IX of the constitution of 1970 provides:

"(a) The General Assembly by law may classify personal property for purposes of taxation by valuation, abolish such taxes on any or all classes and authorize the levy of taxes in lieu of the taxation of personal property by valuation.

(b) Any ad valorem personal property tax abolished on or before the effective date of this ...


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