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State v. Mercer County Board of Taxation

Decided: July 22, 1937.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PROSECUTOR,
v.
MERCER COUNTY BOARD OF TAXATION AND ARTHUR BALLARD, COLLECTOR OF TAXES OF THE CITY OF TRENTON, DEFENDANTS



On writ of certiorari.

For the prosecutor, David T. Wilentz and John Solan.

For the defendants, Sidney Goldmann and John Oswald.

Before Justices Parker, Lloyd and Donges.

Donges

The opinion of the court was delivered by

DONGES, J. The writ of certiorari in this case brings up for review an assessment and imposition of taxes by the city of Trenton on certain property of the State of New Jersey, located in the rear of the state capitol and known as Stacy Park, for the year 1935.

The assessments were levied under and pursuant to the provision of chapter 438 of the laws of 1933 (Pamph. L., p. 1228) which provides that "all lands in the State of New Jersey, used or to be used solely for park purposes, whether the same be owned by the State, held in trust or for the use of the State, and whether the title thereto be in the name of the State, any commission, board or corporation, shall be assessed and taxed in the municipalities wherein such lands are situate, for State, school, county, municipal and improvement purposes, in the same manner as other real property owned by individuals; * * *."

The proceedings were instituted on August 14th, 1936, by complaint of the collector of taxes of the city of Trenton that said property was omitted from the tax assessment list, filed with the Mercer county board of taxation, which board gave notice to the state comptroller and proceeded to hearing under section 28 of the General Tax act of 1903. 4 Comp. Stat., p. 5107. It gave judgment that the property was subject to the payment of taxes; that its value for the taxing year 1935 was the sum of $234,450; and that it should be taxed at that sum. This writ of certiorari was allowed to review that determination and judgment.

Certain procedural questions are raised by both parties, but we deem there is no merit in them and pass to a consideration of the validity of the statute in question.

There can be no doubt that the legislation deals with taxation and must be so considered. By section 203 (2) of the act of 1918 (Pamph. L., p. 849), the property of the State of New Jersey and property of the respective counties, school districts and taxing districts, when used for public purposes, are exempted from taxation. By the terms of the act under consideration, the lands of one of the exempted class -- the State of New Jersey -- shall be subject to taxation, if it be lands used for park purposes or intended to be used for park purposes. The constitution requires (article 4, section 7, paragraph 12) that "property shall be assessed under general laws by uniform rules."

In Tippett v. McGrath, Collector, 70 N.J.L. 110; affirmed, 71 Id. 338, Mr. Justice Garrison stated:

"By a number of decisions it has been held not only that this constitutional provision does not require that all property shall be taxed, but also that the legislature may select certain classes of property for taxation, or may exempt certain classes of property from taxation, provided, in each case, the legislative object be accomplished by general laws and that the ...


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