APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Tazewell County; the Hon.
JAMES D. HEIPLE, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is an appeal from various judgment orders entered by the circuit court of Tazewell County. On September 3, 1976, the trial court awarded judgment to the defendant, Tazewell County Collector, on eight consolidated tax objection cases (for the years 1967 through 1974) in which the plaintiff, The Hopedale Medical Foundation, was seeking a declaration that its real estate was used for charitable purposes and therefore exempt from real estate taxation. On September 16, 1976, the trial court granted relief sought by the defendant in its counterclaim by finding that the plaintiff was liable for penalties due to its failure to pay taxes during the years in question. Robert Burroughs intervened in the trial court proceedings by claiming tax deeds to the real estate in question but the intervenor made no court appearances, did not pursue his claim and is not a party to this appeal.
We would be guilty of prolixness if we set forth a detailed recital of the origin and development of The Hopedale Medical Foundation for the same is already clearly and adequately set forth in the case of People ex rel. County Collector v. Hopedale Medical Foundation (1970), 46 Ill.2d 450, 264 N.E.2d 4, hereinafter referred to as 1970 Tax Case. We will recite additional facts as they become pertinent to this appeal.
In the 1970 Tax Case decided in 1970 our supreme court denied the plaintiff foundation exemption from real estate taxation for the reason that it was not used exclusively for charitable purposes. The tax years involved in the 1970 Tax Case were 1961 through 1966. The litigation which is the subject of this appeal was commenced on March 15, 1976, some 5 1/2 years after our supreme court decision in the 1970 Tax Case. The litigation which is the subject of this appeal commences with tax objections for the year 1967 and for the next seven consecutive years and the paramount issue is the same as that which was raised in the 1970 Tax Case, to-wit, whether or not the plaintiff, The Hopedale Medical Foundation, is entitled to a real estate exemption because it is used for charitable purposes.
1 One may well ask why the trial court permitted this question to be relitigated and it may well be that it should not have been permitted on the theory of estoppel by verdict. (Turn Verein Lincoln v. Paschen (1960), 20 Ill.2d 229, 170 N.E.2d 111.) We are aware, however, that the doctrine of res judicata is technically inapplicable in tax cases because each claim of exemption for a particular tax year constitutes a separate cause of action. We therefore quarrel not with the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion which attempted to bar a relitigation of the issue relating to the plaintiff foundation's claim of tax exemption.
The trial court permitted the plaintiff foundation to have its day in court and in this appeal we are naturally confronted with the question as to whether in the years subsequent to 1966 there was a change in the circumstances and operation of the plaintiff foundation. The answer to this question is in the negative. The record in this cause discloses that all of the directors of the foundation admitted that no changes had been effected or authorized in the operation and organization of the plaintiff foundation since the supreme court decision of 1970. It is apparent from the record that the operation and organization of the plaintiff foundation was the same as it had been in the years of 1961 through 1966 which our supreme court found to be such as to defeat a claim for tax exemption.
From 1967 through 1971 Dr. Rossi continued to operate a private medical practice, a private pharmacy, and a consultation business on the property of the foundation.
2 The law is settled that it is encumbent upon a property owner to show clearly that its organization and use of property falls within the provisions of the statute respecting the exemption of charitable organizations from taxation. Rotary International v. Paschen (1958), 14 Ill.2d 480, 153 N.E.2d 4.
The statutory provisions relating to the exemption of property used for charitable purposes are as follows:
"All property described in Sections 19.1 through 19.24 to the extent therein limited, is exempt from taxation. * * *" Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 500.
All property of institutions of public charity, all property of beneficent and charitable organizations, whether incorporated in this or any other state of the United States, and all property of old people's homes, when such property is actually and exclusively used for such charitable or beneficent purposes, and not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit; * * *." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 500.7.)
The foregoing statutory provisions implemented the authority for the tax exemption of property used exclusively for charitable purposes which was granted in article IX, section 3 of the 1870 Constitution of the State of Illinois, and which is found in article IX, section 6 of the 1970 Constitution of Illinois.
The all-encompassing issue raised by the plaintiff foundation in this appeal is that it is an institution of public charity as defined by statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 120, par. 500.7) and consequently is entitled to a real estate taxation exemption. In buttressing this contention the plaintiff foundation first argues that the record in this cause fails to show a disqualifying benefit which was ...