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Alpha Rho Alumni Association v. City of New Brunswick

Decided: January 21, 1941.

ALPHA RHO ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, PROSECUTOR,
v.
CITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK ET AL., DEFENDANTS



On writ of certiorari.

For the prosecutor, R.E. & A.D. Watson.

For the defendants, Paul W. Ewing and William D. Danberry.

Before Justices Case, Donges and Heher.

Donges

The opinion of the court was delivered by

DONGES, J. The writ in this case brings up a judgment of the State Board of Tax Appeals affirming an assessment by the City of New Brunswick, for taxes for the year 1938, on land, building and personal property of prosecutor. Prosecutor is a Greek letter society, incorporated December 30th, 1936, under an act to incorporate associations not for pecuniary profit. It owns and maintains a building at No. 114 College avenue, in the City of New Brunswick, where from twenty-eight to thirty-two active members are rented rooms at $156 each for eight and a fraction months and are furnished meals at a charge of $1.30 per day. Members are

required to pay a fee of $25 on initiation, a national fee of $7 a year while in college and current dues of $8 a month of the college year to the local chapter. Alumni members pay $10 per year dues and make contributions to the society from time to time to meet deficits in operation.

The basic question is whether prosecutor's property is exempt from taxation under chapter 46 of the Laws of 1936 (Pamph. L., p. 129), and, if so, whether the provision, originally adopted June 3d, 1937 (Pamph. L., ch. 170, p. 412), is unconstitutional. That provision is as follows: "Nothing herein contained shall be construed to permit the exemption of property owned directly or indirectly, or for the benefit of, organizations commonly known and designated as college clubs, or college lodges, or college fraternities."

The State Board held that it would not pass upon the constitutionality of the act of 1937, but inasmuch as prosecutor clearly came within its provisions, exemption was denied.

Chapter 46 of the laws of 1936 provides:

"1. The following property shall be exempt from taxation under the act to which this is a supplement, namely: All real and personal property used in the work and for the purposes of one or more fraternal organizations or lodges, or any association

or society organized on the lodge plan, or affiliated associations, whether incorporated or unincorporated; provided, that the legal or beneficial ownership of such property is in one or more of the said organizations, lodges, associations or societies; and provided, further, that no part of such property is used for pecuniary profit."

This act was declared valid in City of Camden v. Camden County, &c., 121 N.J.L. 262; 2 A.2d 40; affirmed, ...


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