For the prosecutor The New York Central Railroad Company, and the companies comprising its system, O'Mara, Conway & Schumann (Joseph A. Davis, of counsel).
For the prosecutor Erie Railroad Company, Markley & Broadhurst (Edward A. Markley and Raymond J. Lamb, of counsel).
For the defendants, Walter D. Van Riper, Attorney-General of New Jersey, Benjamin C. Van Tine and Benjamin M. Taub, Deputy Attorneys-General.
Before Justices Donges, Colie and Eastwood.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
EASTWOOD, J. Writs of certiorari have been allowed in the above matters to review assessments made by the Director
of the Division of Taxation, State Department of Taxation and Finance, against The New York Central Railroad Company, and the companies comprising its System, for the year 1945, upon certain floating equipment, consisting of ferry boats, tugs, lighters, &c., at a valuation of $1,292,321. Like action was taken by said Director on levying an assessment against Erie Railroad Company for the year 1945, upon similar floating equipment, at a valuation of $1,697,355. The assessments complained of were levied pursuant to the provisions of the Railroad Tax Law of 1941, Pamph. L. 1941, ch. 291; R.S. 54:29A-1, et seq. An appeal from said assessments was taken to the Division of Tax Appeals, which, by its judgment entered on December 4th, 1946, dismissed both appeals. The matter is now before us on certiorari to determine the validity of that determination. No review of the assessments on main stem and second class lands has been asked in the writs and we, therefore, confine ourselves solely to the issue of the assessments on the floating equipment.
From the record the following facts emerge. Both the Erie Railroad Company and The New York Central Railroad Company, which will hereafter be referred to as Erie and New York Central, respectively, are corporations formed under the laws of the State of New York. They own and operate ferry boats, tugs, lighters and other craft on the waters of New York harbor between New York City and Jersey City, as well as in the immediate vicinity. The floating equipment is employed by the Erie and The New York Central for the transporting of passengers and freight in both directions across the Hudson River. The ferry boats, tug boats and steam and Diesel lighters are self-propelled and the freight-carrying equipment consisting of car floats, closed barges, open barges, lighters and other craft are largely non-self-propelled and are moved from place to place by tug boats. All of the self-propelled craft were registered with the United States Customs Service at the Port of New York and have New York as their home port. The non-self-propelled craft are not registered and are not required so to be. Both companies have been so engaged in transporting passengers and freight for many years. Prior to the year
1945, no tax was assessed by the defendant Director or his predecessors against said equipment. For that year, the assessments complained of were levied under the applicable provisions of the Railroad Tax Law of ...