For the prosecutor, Autenrieth & Wortendyke (Alfred A. Rochester, of counsel).
For the defendant City of Jersey City, Charles A. Rooney (John J. Meehan, of counsel).
Before Justices Donges, Colie and Eastwood.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
EASTWOOD, J. This is a tax case. Certiorari has been allowed to review the action of the Division of Tax Appeals which reversed the action of the Hudson County Board of Taxation cancelling a tax assessment against the prosecutor for the year 1944, upon certain personal property owned by prosecutor and situate in the warehouse of Lackawanna Warehouse Company, Inc., in Jersey City. The corporate prosecutor is a foreign corporation of the State of Illinois, maintaining offices in the City of New York with its principal
place of business in Chicago. It maintains no office in the State of New Jersey. Commencing in the year 1941, prosecutor leased space in the warehouse of the Lackawanna Warehouse Company, Inc., and had located therein, during the ensuing years, certain personal property consisting of chemical products in drums, barrels and carboys. Prosecutor maintained two to four employees of its own at its space in the warehouse. The testimony discloses that the duties of these employees were to make shipments, on orders received from the prosecutor's New York office, of the stocks in the warehouse. The goods consigned to the prosecutor were received at the incoming freight platforms of the Lackawanna Warehouse and were handled at that point by the warehouse employees. The goods were then put in the space allotted to prosecutor by the warehouse employees, and when orders were sent from prosecutor's New York office to the warehouse, the actual shipments were also handled by the warehouse employees. From what we are able to glean from the proofs, the sole duties of prosecutor's employees with relation to the goods in question, had to do with receiving the orders from prosecutor's New York office and loading the goods upon skids, from which point on, the warehouse employees removed the goods from prosecutor's space and distributed the goods for shipment over the various railroads and motor truck companies. Prosecutor's employees were on duty from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. After closing hours during the day and on holidays and Sundays, prosecutor's employees had no access to or control over the property. It is also urged by prosecutor that it had no possession of the goods from the time they entered the warehouse until they came to prosecutor's space or from the time they left the space.
For the year 1944, the City of Jersey City assessed the property at the sum of $50,000. This assessment was revised by the Hudson County Board of
Taxation to the sum of $18,300. Upon appeal by the prosecutor to the Hudson County Board of Taxation, the assessment was canceled. Upon appeal by the City of Jersey City to the Division of Tax Appeals, the action of the Hudson County Board of Taxation was reversed and the assessment reinstated in the amount of $18,300. Certiorari was allowed to review the latter determination.
Prosecutor contends that the property in question was exempt from taxes under the provisions of R.S. 54:4-3.20, respecting exemption of personal property in storage in a public warehouse for hire. The cited statute provides:
"All personal property stored in a warehouse of any person, co-partnership or corporation engaged in the business of storing goods for hire shall be ...