For the prosecutors, Charles A. Rooney, Charles Hershenstein, Raymond C. Connell, John J. Fallon, John N. Platoff and Irwin Rubinstein.
For the respondents, David T. Wilentz, John Solan, Maximilian M. Stallman, Collins & Corbin, Conover English, Raymond Schroeder, Katzenbach, Gildea & Rudner, Carpenter, Gilmour & Dwyer, Wall, Haight, Carey & Hartpence, Walter T. Margetts, Jr., and Henry Lanahan.
Before Justices Parker, Heher and Perskie.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
PERSKIE, J. These are railroad tax cases. They involve the "railroad tax law of 1941." Three questions require decision.
1. Is the "railroad tax law of 1941," Pamph. L. 1941, ch. 291, as amended by Pamph. L. 1942, ch. 169, constitutional?
2. Are the provisions of R.S. 54:26-10 and section 34 of Pamph. L. 1941, supra, requiring the State Board of Tax Appeals to conclude its hearings on or before October 15th following the filing of the complaint (Cf. R.S. 54:29A-34) directory or mandatory?
3. Are prosecutors qualified to prosecute these writs?
The facts which give rise to the posed questions are substantially and briefly stated in what follows. The State Tax Commissioner (hereafter referred to as Commissioner), pursuant to the law prevailing at each time, made three separate computations of and levies for the taxes due from the railroad companies to the state, for the tax year of 1941, upon the property used by these railroad companies for railroad purposes.
The first was made on June 3d, 1941, pursuant to R.S. 54:19-1, et seq. (Taxation of Railroad and Canal Companies). This computation was based upon the "average rate of taxation" (R.S. 54:24.2), for the year of 1941, of $4.818 on each $100 of valuation, as ascertained under R.S. 54:24-3, and resulted in a total tax against the railroads of $18,322,164.33.
The second was made on November 15th, 1941, pursuant to Pamph. L. 1941, ch. 291 ("railroad tax law of 1941"). This computation, based upon the fixed statutory rate of $3 for each $100 of valuation, resulted in an ad valorem tax of $11,016,118.17, and based upon the prescribed statutory formula resulted in a separate franchise or excise tax of $4,163,108.43, or a total of $15,179,226.60.
The third was made on May 16th, 1942, pursuant to Pamph. L. 1941, ch. 291, as amended by Pamph. L. 1942, ch. 169. This computation resulted in a franchise or excise tax of $4,026,812.90, which when added to the ad valorem tax of $11,016,118.17, fixed under Pamph. L. 1941, supra, totals $15,042,913.07. Thus the net face difference between the first and third computation is $3,279,233.26.
No useful purpose would be served in detailing each of the many appeals taken to the State Board of Tax Appeals by prosecutors allegedly consisting of aggrieved municipalities and citizens and taxpayers thereof, or to detail the many writs allowed by the Supreme Court, or to set down the ...