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servants of the people, continue at every fitting opportunity, to call the attention of the law-making power to the existence of these evils. that the proper corrective may be applied?
The law establishing a State Board of Equalization, provides for their assembling only once in five years, and therefore, the valuation fixed upon by them at their last meeting, will have to remain the basis for apportioning all State taxes for that length of time. The wisdom of this provision may be questioned. In population and wealth one county may increase faster than another. The value of property is continually changing. The valuation may be equal in one year, and very unequal and unjust another. I therefore suggest the propriety of calling the attention of the legislature to the importance of providing for the meeting of the State Board as often as every other year. There can be no objection on the score of expense, as the whole cost of the meeting of the Board for the last year was only $40 18.
At the request of the Board, the following communication, which will explain itself, was addressed to the Boards of Supervisors for the counties of Wayne and St. Clair:
AUDITOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,
To the Boards of Supervisors of the counties of Wayne and St. Clair: The State Board of Equalization, at their session in August last passed the following preamble and resolution:
"Whereas, As has appeared by evidence adduced before this board, a large amount of personal property in the counties of Wayne and St. Clair, consisting principally of steamboats, logs and pine lumber, is unassessed;
And whereas, It became necessary in consequence thereof, to add to the aggregate of personal property assessed in the county of Wayne, a considerable amount; therefore
Resolved, That the Auditor General be requested to correspond with the boards of Supervisors of said counties on the subject, and in relation to the law authorizing the assessment of personal property of a co-partnership where either partner resides."
In complying with the above, it would seem only necessary to call your attention to section 12, chapter 20, of the Revised Statutes of
1846. It will there be seen, that partners in any business, though residing in different townships, may be jointly taxed in their partnership name, "in the township where their business is carried on, for all the personal property employed in such business, and if they have places of business in two or more townships, they shall be taxed in those townships for the proportion of property employed in such townships respectively, and in case of being so jointly taxed, each partner shall be liable for the whole tax."
The provisious of this section are plain and positive, and require no explanation from any one, to be well understood by every assess
It was the deliberate opinion of the Board, that if the assessors in the counties of Wayne and St. Clair would strictly adhere to those provisions in their assessment of partnership personal property, the aggregate in those counties would be greatly increased, and the personal property of the Messrs. Ward, (to which reference was particularly made by the delegates from Wayne and St. Clair,) would not escape taxation.
The saw logs and lumber lying in the county of St. Clair, at the time of the assessment, and owned by residents of Detroit, should be assessed in the city of Detroit. If owned by partners in business, and one of the partners reside in the county of St. Clair, Sec. 12, of chapter 20 above referred to, will govern the assessment.
In all cases of taxes assessed upon personal property, if the collector be unable to collect the tax, he will make his return accordingly, and will then proceed, in accordance with Act No. 193, of laws of 1850, "in the name of the township, (or ward,) to sue the person or persons against whom such tax was assessed, before any court of competent jurisdiction, and to have, use and take all lawful ways and means provided by law for the collection of debts, to enforce the payment of any such tax."
Any property liable to be seized, under warrants issued for the collection of taxes by township supervisors, may be levied upon and sold. The assessment roll is made prima facie evidence of the legality and regularity of the assessment, and the court shall render judg ment against the defendant, unless he shall make it appear that he has paid such tax. No stay of execution is allowed.
In equalizing, the Board considered the aggregate of real estate in the county of Wayne, relatively equal, but the personal property too low, and therefore added 8 per cent to the aggregate. In the county of St. Clair the real estate was too high, and the personal property as much too low; they therefore left the aggregate the same as reported by the board of supervisors. Hence the counties of Wayne and St. Clair are both mentioned in the first preamble, and Wayne only, in the second.
Very Respectfully, &c.,
J. SWEGLES, JR,
RAIL ROAD SPECIFIC TAX.
The amount of specific tax paid in by the Rail Road Companies during the year, is $16,808 00. (For detail of all specific taxes see statement No. 7.) The Southern Rail Road Company, by their charter, are to pay a tax of "one half of one per cent. upon the capital stock paid in." By their last report, this amount is $648,192 87, the tax on which for the year 1851, is $3,240 96, and with this amount they stand charged on the books of this office. They have paid in only $2,500. For the year 1852, this, as well as the Central company, are to pay a tax of three-fourths of one per cent., not only upon their stock paid in, but upon all loans made to said companies.
The Detroit and Pontiac Rail Road Company has paid all arrearages for tax and interest, up to and including October, 1850, since which their tax is in arrears.
The Erie and Kalamazoo Rail Road Company, with all its equip. ments and appurtenances, has been leased permanently to the Southern Rail Road Company. The tax received for the last year is $1,500.
The Chippewa Portage Company have built a Rail Road for the transportation of passengers and property around the Falls of St. Mary, in Chippewa county, but as yet have made no report and have paid no tax. In consideration of the payment of a State tax of onehalf of one per cent., this company are exempt from the payment of all other taxes. From a letter lately received from the clerk of Chippewa county, it appears that the company claim that their shipping interest is by their charter also exempt from taxation for State, coun
ty and township purposes--but I have looked in vain for such exemption in their charter. The company was organized for a specific purpose; which was, to build a plank or railroad, to erect the necessary depots, and to receive, store and transport passengers and property in suitable cars or vehicles upon said road, by the force of animals, or any mechanical or motive power. For these purposes and these only, the company was exempt from other than a specific State tax. This statement seems necessary to explain the action of the State Board of Equalization, in reference to the valuation of Chippewa county, as the shipping interest of the company was not considered by the Board as being exempt from assessment for State, county and town taxes, and therefore a large per cent. was added to the valuation of said county.
At the suggestion of one of the Board, I addressed the Attorney General upon the subject, and for his opinion, see appendix
BANK SPECIFIC TAX
The amount of bank tax paid in during the year is $4,929 14, being an excess over the receipts of last year of $1,941 89--besides this, the Michigan State Bank has not paid the tax due in October last, amounting to $1,105 73. I am advised that this amonnt will be paid in a few days. The Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank pays a specific State tax only on $44,807, this being the amount of capital stock after deducting the real estate owned by the Bank. This real estate, for this purpose, is no doubt estimated by the Bank at its selling value and not in accordance with the valuation of assessors. There should only be deducted the amount of valuation as assessed for State, county and township purposes. The stocks deposited by some of the banks, for which they receive circulating notes, exceeds the amount of their capital reported. Upon this excess, at least, a tax ought also to be paid. It is contended by some, that the banks may owe for those stocks, and thus their indebtedness would be taxed and a portion of the stocks would be taxed twice. To this I may be permitted to reply, that a farm will be taxed though it be mortgaged for all it is worth, and the mortgagee will also pay a tax for the full amount of such mortgage. Then why should corporations be exempted from burthens that are imposed upon individuals?
PLANK ROAD TAX.
The receipts from this source are rapidly increasing. Plank roads are being built in every direction from our principal cities and villages. The capital thus invested yields a handsome profit to the individual, and is becoming a fruitful source of revenue to the State. To the people living some distance from the lines of the great thoroughfares, it is of still greater importance-opening up to them a market almost at their own doors, and revealing heretofore hidden sources of wealth.
MINING COMPANY SPECIFIC TAX.
By the constitution, one-half of the taxes received from mining corporations, paying a tax of one per cent., are to be paid to the treasurers of the counties from which it is received. An act was necessary to carry this provision into effect; but although their attention was twice called to the subject by the Executive, the Legislature failed to pass the necessary law. This is to be regretted, as those counties are thus deprived of nearly their whole means of defraying county expenses. The next Legislature should remedy this defect, as well as make provision for refunding the amount to which those counties are respectively entitled. Every Company making a report, (excepting the Douglass Houghton Company,) have promptly paid the amount of tax due. The Jackson Mining Company are exempt, by their charter, from the payment of a specific tax. Why the Legislature of 1849 saw fit to exempt this Company, and not others, I am unable to explain. It certainly was not dispensing "equal and exact justice to all."
The supplies of Iron and Copper in the Upper Peninsula are believed to be inexhaustible; but it requires labor and capital to render them marketable. The investment of capital there, should be encouraged, that the immense wealth of the mines may be developed, and the revenue of the State increased.
TELEGRAPH COMPANY TAX.
The Erie and Michigan is the only company that has paid a specific tax during the last year. The agent of the other companies has been written to on the subject; but as yet no answer has been received. The law provides that in case of non-payment of the tax, the State Treasurer shall advertise the line for sale, for the amount of tax unpaid.