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11/24/87 In Re Application of Jack L. Anderson

November 24, 1987

IN RE APPLICATION OF JACK L. ANDERSON, COUNTY TREASURER AND


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

Ex-Officio County Collector of Lake County (Jack L.

Anderson, County Treasurer and Ex-Officio

County Collector, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Joseph J. Drobnick et al., Respondents-Appellants)

516 N.E.2d 860, 162 Ill. App. 3d 815, 114 Ill. Dec. 705 1987.IL.1742

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. William F. Homer, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE HOPF delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and WOODWARD, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HOPF

Respondents, Joseph J. Drobnick and Jerome P. Drobnick, appeal from the trial court's order finding them not entitled to a full refund of all monies paid under protest in redeeming more than 200 parcels of vacant land.

The respondents had failed to pay 1980 real estate taxes on the parcels in question, and the properties had been placed for sale, pursuant to an order for judgment and sale, at the Lake County tax delinquent property sale on December 14, 1981. On that date the County of Lake, as trustee, made its non-cash bids on the properties. The county had a standing bid on those parcels which were not bid upon by any other tax buyer at the tax sale.

Subsequently, the county petitioned for an order directing the issuance of tax deeds based upon the purchases of the respondents' delinquent 1980 real estate taxes at the 1981 tax sale. Notices were served upon all known and unknown owners and all interested parties for each parcel the county had acquired. The notices were also published. Each owner, unknown owner, and interested party was advised that each parcel sold for delinquent 1980 taxes could be redeemed prior to the issuance of a tax deed to the county. The respondents filed a redemption under protest in December 1984, listing their reasons for the protest. To redeem the properties, the respondents paid the 1980 delinquent taxes as well as statutory interests, costs, and fees incurred for the tax delinquency. Additionally, they were required to pay the 1981 taxes, which had remained unpaid until the 1984 redemption, as well as the statutory interests on those taxes.

At a bench trial on the issues raised by the respondents in their redemption under protest, the court found that the county had fully complied with the provisions of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 120, par. 482 et seq.) (the Act) and that the county would have been entitled to tax deeds in the absence of the redemption under protest. Additionally, the court found constitutional the provisions of the Act complained of by the respondents. The court ordered the protest stricken from the redemptions and authorized the distribution of the redemption money.

The respondents' post-trial motion to vacate and set aside the court's final order was denied. They appeal from the trial court's decision and its subsequent denial of their post-trial motion.

In this court the respondents contend: (1) that the penalty provisions of section 253 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 120, par. 734) violate the due process clauses of both the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution; (2) that the advertisements and other notices issued for the sale of the tax delinquent properties were void and violated section 228 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 120, par. 709); (3) that the county failed to comply with section 239 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 120, par. 720) by not certifying the tax judgment, sale, redemption and forfeiture records; (4) that no certificates of purchase were issued to the county pursuant to the sale of the tax delinquent properties; (5) that the county's authority, as trustee, to make non-cash bids on properties at tax sales is unconstitutional; (6) that the county improperly filed 238 separate petitions for tax deeds thereby causing respondents to incur extra costs at the time of the redemption; and (7) that the county failed to prove that the tax judgment amount was accurate or correct.

Respondents' first contention consists primarily of unsupported assertions. An appellant may not make a point merely by stating it without presenting arguments in support of it, and this court will not argue a case for an appellant. (Nicholl v. Scaletta (1982), 104 Ill. App. 3d 642, 647, 432 N.E.2d 1267.) A court of review is entitled to have briefs submitted that are articulate, organized, and present cohesive legal argument in conformity with supreme court rules. (In re Marriage of Souleles (1982), 111 Ill. App. 3d 865, 869, 444 N.E.2d 720.) Any issue which has not been adequately presented to this court for review may be deemed waived. (Williams v. Danley Lumber Co. (1984), 129 Ill. App. 3d 325, 472 N.E.2d 586.) On the basis of the respondents' presentation of their first issue, we could justifiably consider it waived, especially in light of the fact that it is unclear exactly what they are contending. Nevertheless, we shall address what we believe to be the issue.

The respondents appear to be contending that the penalty provisions of section 253 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 120, par. 734), dealing with the redemption of tax delinquent property, contravene the due process clauses of both the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution. Additionally, the respondents claim that these provisions violate Illinois criminal statutes and Illinois civil usury laws.

Respondents failed to pay 1980 real estate taxes for more than 200 parcels of vacant land. These parcels were subsequently sold in December 1981 at the Lake County tax delinquency property sale to the County of Lake, as trustee. The respondents' unpaid 1981 property taxes were posted to these sales. In order to prevent the county from obtaining tax deeds to these parcels, the respondents in December 1984 redeemed each parcel under protest, paying a 93% penalty on the 1980 unpaid taxes and a 36% penalty on the 1981 unpaid taxes. These penalties were computed pursuant to section 253 of the Revenue Act of 1939. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 120, par. 734.

The purpose of the sections of the Act providing for certificates of purchase and tax deeds is to encourage buyers at tax sales, to increase the collection of taxes, and to free land to reenter the stream of commerce and bear its share of the tax burden. (Bouhl v. Gross (1985), 133 Ill. App. 3d 6, 11, 478 N.E.2d 620; City of Bloomington v. John Allan Co. (1974), 18 Ill. App. 3d 569, 581, 310 N.E.2d 437.) A tax purchaser acquires through his certificate of purchase the right to be paid the price of the sale, interests, costs, and any other taxes, if there is redemption. 18 Ill. App. 3d 569, 576, 310 N.E.2d 437.

"Tax revenues are literally the lifeblood of government" (Rosewell v. Chicago Title & Trust Co. (1984), 99 Ill. 2d 407, 416, 459 N.E.2d 966), and it has long been recognized that the legislature has the power to impose penalties for nonpayment of taxes. (People ex rel. Abbe v. Nash (1936), 364 Ill. 224, 234, 4 N.E.2d 101 (Shaw, J., Dissenting).) In the instant case, respondents chose not to pay the 1980 and 1981 taxes on more than 200 parcels of property, an act which cost the county and the taxing districts needed revenue. Additionally, respondents chose not to redeem the parcels until 1984, thereby causing Lake County to expend time and money to get the parcels back on the productive tax rolls. Thus, respondents cannot now complain of the amount of the penalty rates they had to pay in redeeming their properties since the legislature had the right to create such rates and since the rates resulted from the respondents' own neglect and delay in paying their taxes when due. Having to redeem their properties from a tax sale purchaser at a penalty interest rate that was compounded by the length of time it took them to redeem was a result of respondents' own delinquency. Had respondents paid the property taxes when due, they would never have been put in the position of having to pay the penalty charges.

We find respondents' assertion that the penalty provisions of section 253 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 120, par. 734) are in violation of the Illinois criminal statutes and the usury laws of Illinois and the United States to be baseless. Like the petitioner, we are unaware of any civil usury laws in Illinois or in the United States which prohibit legislatively imposed penalties for redemption of tax delinquent real property. Moreover, the criminal usury statute respondents cite (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 39-1) for their proposition that tax redemption penalties resemble "juice loans" is totally inapplicable to the case at bar, primarily because the relationship between the county and the respondents is not that of lender-lendee.

We conclude that the penalty rates charged respondents were not unreasonable and that section 253 of the Act, providing for such charges, is ...


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