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Princeton Country Day School v. State Board of Tax Appeals

Decided: October 5, 1934.

PRINCETON COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL, AN INCORPORATED ASSOCIATION NOT FOR PECUNIARY PROFIT, PROSECUTOR,
v.
THE STATE BOARD OF TAX APPEALS AND TOWNSHIP OF PRINCETON, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS



On certiorari, &c.

For the prosecutor, Vandewater & Manser (William C. Vandewater, of counsel).

For the defendant township of Princeton, Louis Gerber (John Oswald, of counsel).

Before Justices Trenchard, Heher and Perskie.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. The prosecutor of this writ, the Princeton Country Day School, is a corporation organized in May, 1926, under "An act to incorporate associations not for pecuniary profit." Pamph. L. 1898, p. 422. Prior thereto it existed as a voluntary association, having been created as such in 1924.

The defendant township of Princeton levied an assessment for the year 1933 upon the property of the prosecutor, consisting of land and improvements, at a valuation of $43,800. An appeal was taken to the Mercer county board of taxation, which, after hearing, was dismissed. An appeal was then taken to the state board of tax appeals which affirmed the action of the county board. This writ brings up for review the judgment of the state board.

The prosecutor (hereinafter called the "School") insists that it is entitled to exemption from taxation by reason of section 203 (subdivision 4) of the General Tax act of 1918, as amended by chapter 372 of laws of 1931, page 904. The statute reads:

"The following property shall be exempt from taxation under this act namely: * * * All buildings actually used for colleges, schools, academies or seminaries; * * * the land whereon any of the buildings hereinbefore mentioned are erected, and which may be necessary for the fair enjoyment thereof, and which is devoted to the purposes above mentioned and to no other purpose and does not exceed five acres in extent; * * * provided, however, in case of all the foregoing, that said buildings, or the lands on which they stand, or the associations, corporations or institutions using and occupying the same as aforesaid, are not conducted for profit, except that the exemption of the buildings and

lands used for charitable, benevolent or religious purposes shall extend to cases where the charitable, benevolent or religious work therein carried on is supported partly by fees and charges received from or on behalf of beneficiaries using or occupying the said building; provided, the building is wholly controlled by and the entire income therefrom is used for said charitable, benevolent or religious purposes; * * *."

Now to merit exemption from taxation under that act the burden is upon the person claiming the exemption to adduce facts bringing his case within the terms of the statute granting the exemption. Carteret Academy v. State Board, 102 N.J.L. 525; affirmed, 104 Id. 165; Blair Academy v. State Board, 6 N.J. Mis. R. 498; 141 A. 789; affirmed, 106 N.J.L. 556; 146 A. 912; Y.W.C.A. v. Pelham, 9 N.J. Mis. R. 196; affirmed, 108 N.J.L. 553.

All exemptions from general taxation, being in the nature of a renunciation of sovereignty, must invariably be construed most strictly against the person claiming the exemption, and can never be permitted to extend beyond what the terms of the concession clearly require, and in case of doubt is determined in favor of the rule which subjects all property to a just share of the public burdens. Mausoleum Builders of New Jersey v. State Board of Taxes, 88 N.J.L. 592; affirmed, 90 Id. 163; ...


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