The opinion of the court was delivered by
LYNCH, J.A.D. Appellant-taxpayer appeals from a decision of the Division of Tax Appeals (Division) which sustained the tax rate on tangible business personalty in Bogota as fixed by the Bergen County Tax Board at $13.64 for the
tax year 1965. Appellant contends that the county board erred in arriving at the tax rate because it used as a base for calculation thereof the value of the total assessments of business personalty for the tax year 1963, in applying the statutory formula mandated by L. 1964, c. 141 (N.J.S.A. 54:4-9 et seq.), rather than adjusting said value in accordance with reductions thereon later obtained on appeal and resulting in less taxes "collected." It is taxpayer's contention that if such reductions had been recognized, and applied in the calculation, that rate would be $5.95 and would result in a tax bill to taxpayer in the amount of $31,315, rather than the $71,789 which was billed in applying the $13.64 rate.
The problem presented requires interpretation of the interim legislation contained in L. 1964, c. 141, which established the method of calculating the tax rate to be applied on tangible business property for the tax years 1965 and 1966. Here we are concerned with that for the year 1965. Section 2 of the statute provided:
The adjusted personalty tax rate for each taxing district shall be determined as follows by the respective county boards of taxation:
a. First, for the tax year 1965, for each taxing district there shall be derived a fraction in which 1963 business personal property taxes in the district are the numerator and in which all 1963 property taxes in the district, real and personal, are the denominator. Second, the fraction so determined in each district shall be multiplied by the total property tax levy in the district for the tax year 1965. Third, the dollar figure so determined shall be divided by the 1965 total taxable value of business personal property in the district and the resulting dollar figure shall be the 1965 adjusted personalty tax rate expressed in mills per dollar of assessed value; * * *.
Thus, the statutory formula here included, among other considerations, the factor of the 1963 business personalty property taxes and the 1963 taxes on all property, real and personal, in a tax district. Also, section 7 of the 1964 act prescribed a report by the Director of the Division of Taxation (Director). Section 7 read:
The Director of the Division of Taxation shall compile and publish and distribute a report, in such form and detail as he shall prescribe, indicating real and personal property taxes levied and collected throughout all taxing districts for the tax year 1963 and each year thereafter which shall be used by county boards of taxation and other officials in determining and reviewing adjusted personalty tax rates. [Emphasis added]
The emphasis is ours, but the language emphasized creates the issue as argued by taxpayer.
In his report dated December 16, 1964 the Director indicated that the business personal property taxes in Bogota for 1963 totaled $251,616. Taxpayer contends that the 1963 personal property tax actually collected by Bogota was only $123,831.29. This lower figure of such taxes actually collected resulted because other large Bogota taxpayers, Brewster & Son, Inc. and Brewster Equipment Co., after appeal, had obtained reductions in their business personalty assessments for the year 1963 in the amount of $1,695,000. Since the total of such assessments in Bogota had amounted to $3,730,331, the reductions obtained by the Brewster Companies reduced the business personalty assessments by almost 45%, and resulted in the consequent reduction in the amount of business personal property taxes actually collected.
Taxpayer's argument is based upon the wording of section 7 to the effect that the report of the Director of the Division of Taxation must indicate real and personal property taxes "levied and collected" (emphasis ours) in a taxing district for the year 1963; that the phrase means that the report shall indicate the actual taxes collected for that tax year rather than those merely levied. It is contended that the Director's report of December 16, 1964 was in error in that it did not indicate the taxes which had been ...