APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT
(The County Collector of Du Page County, et al.,
Du Page Art League, Appellee) 2-86-0190 cons.
510 N.E.2d 1240, 157 Ill. App. 3d 355, 110 Ill. Dec. 209 1987.IL.961
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Robert D. McLaren, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE NASH delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN and INGLIS, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE NASH
In this consolidated appeal, the county collector of Du Page County (county collector) and the Illinois Department of Revenue (Department), appeal from a judgment of the circuit court that property owned by taxpayer, the Du Page Art League (Art League), was exempt from real estate taxes for 1982, 1983, and 1984, contending that (1) a prior declaration of exemption by the trial court in 1978 did not preclude the county collector from determining a tax liability for a subsequent year, (2) the court erred in denying the county collector's motion to dismiss the Art League's objections to the 1982 and 1984 taxes, and (3) the Art League failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before objecting to the 1983 tax levied against its property.
On May 10, 1978, the circuit court of Du Page County found that two adjacent parcels of real estate owned by the Art League, a charitable institution, were "actually and exclusively used for such charitable or beneficent purposes" pursuant to section 19.7 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 120, par. 500.7) and were therefore exempt from taxation. The court ordered the county collector to refund real estate taxes paid by the Art League in 1975 and enjoined the county collector "from collecting real estate taxes for 1976 and all subsequent tax years."
In 1982, the Art League combined the two parcels and a new permanent index number was assigned to the new property. On November 15, 1982, the county collector sent plaintiff a "NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT CHANGE," which stated that the property's 1981 assessed value of $0 had been altered due to a change in the legal description and the 1982 assessed value was $32,960.
On January 17, 1983, the Art League filed a request for exempt status with the Du Page County board of review. After a hearing of the matter, the board found that the property was being used for the same purposes as in 1978, when found to be exempt, and stated that it therefore felt compelled to recommend exemption for 1983. The board forwarded its decision to the Illinois Department of Revenue for review pursuant to section 108(6) of the Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 120, par. 589(6)). On May 2, 1984, a Department hearing officer found that the Art League was not a charitable organization and recommended reversal of the board's decision and disapproval of exempt status for 1983. The director of the Department adopted the hearing officer's findings in a decision filed September 24, 1985, and the Art League sought review of that decision in the circuit court, where it is now pending.
On November 13, 1983, the Art League filed an objection in the circuit court to the county collector's application for order for judgment and sale for 1982 taxes, and it later filed similar objections for taxes levied against the property for 1983 and 1984. In each objection, the Art League asserted that the property remained tax exempt under the May 10, 1978, determination of the circuit court. The county collector moved to dismiss the Art League's objection to the 1983 tax on the ground that the only remedy available to the Art League was by administrative review of the Department's September 24, 1985, decision denying exemption. The county collector also moved for dismissal of the Art League's objections to the 1982 and 1984 taxes by reason of its failure to apply to the Du Page County board of review for an exemption for those years.
At hearing on January 13, 1986, the trial court found that the changed parcel number was not sufficient grounds to alter or change the property's exempt status and denied the county collector's motions to dismiss the objections. The court subsequently determined that the property was entitled to an exemption from taxes for 1982 and that the board of review's action in forwarding the assessment to the Department of Revenue was contrary to the May 10, 1978, determination by the court that the property was tax exempt. The court also allowed the Art League's ...