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not be combined. The board is to have nothing to do with individual assessments, except by appeal. and by sections 8553 and 8554 it is clear that the Legislature intend ed that the board should act upon certain classes only. These two sections need no construction. The classes of property are expressly indicated. The abstract of assessments required by section 8552, so far as real estate of the character here in question is concerned, must show "the value of all land in each civil township without improvements, the value of all improvements thereon, and the value of such land with improvements," and shall be arranged in such manner "as to show by civil townships the number of acres, value, and average value of improved lands, and in like manner the number of acres, value, and average value of unimproved lands, total number of acres, total value and average value per acre of all lands, *** and the total value of all property, real and personal," and that "the value to be given in said abstract shall be the assessed valuation," except as to railroad property.
It is argued that the fact that this abstract, upon which the state board acts, must show the value of lands without improvements and the value with improvements, shows the legislative intention to keep improvements separate from the lands. This abstract shows the assessment of property as it appears in the county auditor's office. Real estate and the improvements thereon are listed separately, but the two together are assessed as real property, as the statute (section 8411) says that, "for the purpose of taxation, real property shall include all lands * and all buildings and fixtures thereon and appurte nances thereto. * A sufficient reason for listing lands and the improvements thereon separately is found in the requirement (section 8522) that the assessor shall annually "note and list all changes found in improvements on real estate, and make return thereof to the county auditor as in the year in which real estate is to be assessed." While the abstract does show the value of the land and the improvements separately, yet the ultimate showing required is "by civil townships, the number of acres, value and average value of improved lands and in like manner the number of acres, value and average value of unimproved lands, total number of acres, total value, and average value per acre of all lands." The statute does require that the abstract shall show the value of all improvements separate from the lands in each civil township, but it does not require that it shall show the total value of all improvements separate from the lands in the whole county. The equalization of the townships is not a matter for the state board to consider, but for the county board of review, and the total number of acres, total values and average value per acre of all lands in the county as the political subdivision, is
the subject-matter upon which the state board is to act. So that there is nothing in the above section furnishing any reason to authorize the state board to separate the improvements from the lands in the whole county. By section 8553 the board acts upon the totals of the several classes in each of the counties, and by section 8554 it acts upon the totals of all these classes except railroad property. If, from the wording of the above section, the board is authorized to consider the improvements separate from the land, it could also make other classifications, such as improved lands with improvements, improved lands without improvements, unimproved lands, city inlots, city outlots, improvements on such lots, and other classifications. It is true that the effect of the action of the board in increasing the value of the improvements was to increase the value of the land on which situated. But this cannot be said to amount to a mere irregularity, and therefore not necessarily invalid, for the reason that this would be dividing the lands of the county, other than city and town lots, into improved lands and unimproved lands, a classification the board is not authorized to make. The duty of equalizing the different classes of personal property in a county is imposed upon the county board of review, and it certainly could not be claimed that the board might, under the statute, increase the assessed valuation of the personal property in the county by dividing personal property into classes and increasing the assessed value of one of such classes, cattle for instance, by adding a certain per cent. to the total value of all the cattle in the county. Yet there is as much authority in the statute for making this classification as for classifying lands into improved lands and unimproved lands. If the board has jurisdiction of improvements on lands it must be because improvements are part of the land on which situated, because they cannot be within any of the other enumerated classes. But, if they constitute part of the lands within the meaning of the statute, there is no authority for considering them separate from the lands and thus in effect dividing this particular kind of land into two classes. There would be equally as good reasons for making other classifications as above indicated. We see no escape from the conclusion that lands means the lands and the improvements, and that it takes both to constitute the class designated in the statute. The state board of tax commissioners is a creature of the statute. The only authority it has relating to the assessment of property for taxation and equalizing assessments is to be derived from the statute. If the statute designates the subject-matter upon which it is to act, it has jurisdiction only of such subject-matter. If the statute has classified property for the purposes of equalizing assessments, such classification is conclusive upon the board. It is immaterial that a
different classification would bring about equally as good, or perhaps better, results. The board has no authority to determine for itself whether it will follow the statute or disregard the statute and follow a method of its own. The statute marks the limit of its power and if it goes beyond the statute its acts are void.
It is argued that statutes providing for the assessment and collection of the public revenues, being for the public good, should be liberally construed. The reason underlying this is that the government must have revenue. But the ultimate result of the action of the board may be a decrease in the amount of public revenue. The object of equalization is not to increase assessments or the public revenues, but to take out inequalities in assessments already made in some authorized way. The end sought is relative equality among the assessments throughout the state. Tax laws are not to be construed from the standpoint of the government alone, nor from the standpoint of the taxpayer alone. There is not sufficient reason for saying that any statute should be liberally construed in determining the subject-matter upon which it is to operate. The question in every such case is what did the Legislature intend? When the subject-matter has been determined, as in tax laws, the provisions of the statute providing for the collection of the tax should be liberally construed. If the statute designates certain subject-matters, it should not, by a liberal construction, be extended to cover others, although they may be analogous. If classifications are expressly made, all other classifications are excluded, and to include classifications in addition to those designated by the statute is not liberal construction, but is legislation. In United States v. Wigglesworth, 2 Story, 369, Fed. Cas. No. 16,690, Mr. Justice Story said: "It is, as I conceive, a general rule in the interpretation of all statutes, levying taxes or duties upon subjects or citizens, not to extend their provisions, by implication, beyond the clear import of the language used, or to enlarge their operation so as to embrace matters not specifically pointed out, although standing upon a close analogy." See, also, Hart v. Smith, 159 Ind. 182, 64 N. E. 661, 58 L. R. A. 949, 95 Am. St. Rep. 280. In State v. Vaile, 122 Mo. 33, 26 S. W. 672, a state board of equalization, having power to adjust the valuation of real and personal property among the several counties, had no authority to reduce the valuation in one county of town lots at one rate and of lands at another, and such order was held void, the court saying: "The meaning of this statute, it seems to us, is clear. It gives the board power to equalize the value of property, real and personal, among the counties, but it gives the board no power to go into any county and equalize the value of parcels or classes of real estate therein. That is a matter confided by the law to the county boards. The power of
the two boards is entirely different. The state board may, no doubt, raise or decrease, by a uniform per cent., the valuation of all lands in a county, without changing the valuation of personal property, or it may raise or decrease, by a uniform per cent., the valuation of all personal property in a county, without disturbing the valuation of real estate; but it has nothing to do with adjusting the values of different parcels of land in the same county. It is a board of special and limited powers, and when it steps outside of its jurisdiction its acts are void. We can but conclude that the state board had no power to make these orders, and that they are void." In State v. Empanger, 73 Minn. 337, 76 N. W. 53, the state board of equalization was authorized to add to or deduct from the aggre gate valuation of real property in every county, and to add to, or deduct from, the valuation of real property in any town or district in any county, or the real property in any county not in villages, towns, or cities, without raising or reducing other real property in the county. In holding that the board could not increase the assessable value of acre property in a town 50 per centum and leave the value of lands platted into town lots in the same town unincreased, the court said: "In none of these rules is the board given the power to distinguish between different kinds or classes of property in a district, town, or county, or to add to, or deduct from, the aggregate valuation of one kind or class without raising or reducing the valuation of another. It may increase or reduce the aggregate valuation of real property in a county, treating such county as an entirety, or it may equalize by adding to, or deducting from, valuations as between towns, villages, and cities in the same county, or as between real property within these political subdivisions and that without, in the same county, but in so doing it must treat alike all real property within any of these subdivisions."
It was held in Orr v. State Board, 2 Idaho, (Hasb.) 923, 28 Pac. 416, that a statute, empowering the board to equalize the valuation of the real and personal property among the several counties and towns, did not authorize the board to raise or diminish the valuation put upon any class or classes of property, nor to fix the valuation of any class of property. In Campbell v. Minnehaha, etc., Bank, 11 S. D. 133, 76 N. W. 10, under a statute authorizing the state board of equalization to consider certain classes of personal property, one of which was "the total value of stocks or shares," it was held that the board was not authorized to divide the property so classified and raise the valuation of bank stock without increasing that of other stocks and shares. The court in that case said that the state board is limited to the abstracts returned by the county auditors and "must ac cept, as a unit of computation, the classification therein contained, compare each class
respectively with others of a like class, and is without power to divide a class for the sole purpose of increasing assessment of a part thereof, leaving the valuation of like property in the same class unchanged. It was certainly without warrant of law, unjust, and equivalent to an individual assessment, for the board to select the item of bank stock from its class, which included all kinds of stocks and shares, and assess the same throughout the state at 60 per cent. of the par value thereof, regardless of the actual value." McCutcheon v. Board of Supervisors, 95 Iowa, 20, 63 N. W. 455, a statute required the state board of equalization to equalize the value of real property among the several counties and towns by adding to, or taking from, the aggregate valuation of real property of each county such percentage in each case as will raise or reduce the same to its proper valuation, and that the county board should equalize the assessments of townships, cities, and towns substantially as the state board equalized assessments among the several counties. The county board raised the assessment on farm lands of tracts of more than 10 acres situated within the limits of a certain town. In holding this order void the court said: "The order in question does not add to the aggregate valuation of the real property in Rock Rapids, but to a part thereof, the part used for a particular purposefarm lands. It is not substantially as the state board equalizes assesstrerts. With the same propriety might the county board add to the valuation of business property, or residence property, or to the real property in a particular part of the assessorial district." In Montis v. McQuiston, 107 Iowa, 651, 78 N. W. 704, the county board was authorized to equalize the assessments of the several townships, cities, and incorporated towns of their counties substantially as the state board equalized assessments among the several counties. The state board equalized among the counties by adding to or taking from the aggregate valuation of real property. Although a statute divided a city into districts with an assessor in each, it was held that the county board had no authority to equalize as between the districts, but could only equalize by adding to or taking from the aggregate valuation of the city. See, also, People v. State Board, 205 Ill. 296, GS N. E. 943. People v. Ames, 27 Colo. 126, 60 Pac. 346.
In Oregon, etc., R. Co. v. Croisan, 22 Or. 393, 30 Pac. 219, cited by counsel for appellant, the law of Oregon designated three classes of real property for the purpose of assessment and taxation: (a) City, village, or town property; (b) mortgages, deeds of trust, etc.; (c) all other real property. This classification was made upon the assessment rolls, and the state board was bound by such classification and had no authority to change the assessment rolls or the classification of property as indicated thereon. The state
board was required to "consider real estate, including town and city lots, and personal property separately," and "add to the aggregate valuation of the real, and several kinds or classes of personal property, in every county," etc. By the oath of office the board was to "equalize all the property, both real and personal, as enumerated upon the equalized county assessment rolls of the several counties." It was claimed in argument that the board should consider all real property as one class, but the court held that the board might revise and equalize the aggregate valuation of the several classes of real property authorized by law and enumerated upon the assessment rolls. This was following the classification made by statute, and was authorized by the statutory duty placed upon the board. But, upon the action of the board in creating a class (the question in the case at bar) known as railroad land and in holding that this was not a valid classification, the court said: "This [the above classification] is the only classification of real property known to the law, and the only one the state board is authorized or empowered to adopt or consider. It cannot subdivide these classes into other or different classes by reason of the source of title or present ownership. The classification of property for the purposes of assessment and taxation is a legislative function, and the assessors and boards of equalization are bound by the classification made by the Legislature. Desty on Taxation, 96. *** It may add to, or deduct from, the aggregate valuation of the class to which these lands belong a certain per centum, if necessary to equalize such valuation as between the counties, but it has no power to change the individual assessment, or adopt a classification based solely on the present ownership or source of title. If it may adopt a classification based upon present ownership, and add to the county valuation thereof a different rate per cent. from that added to other property of the same kind, it may treat the property of every individual taxpayer the same way, and thereby increase the individual assessment without notice to the taxpayer, and in violation of the constitutional provision which requires a uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation." The above case and also Smith v. Kelley, 24 Or. 464, 33 Pac. 642, both held that the state board could consider the classes made upon the assessment rolls as the statute required that they should be so made, but also held that the board has no authority to make any classification not made by the statute.
It is argued at some length in appellant's brief that the construction given this statute by the state board, and acted upon for a term of years, should be given due consideration and weight by the court. But as appellants refused to plead further after their demurrer to the complaint was overruled, and as
the complaint does not disclose the fact of such continued construction of the statute by the state board, the question is not presented by the record.
(193 Mass. 47)
LEE et al. v. METHODIST EPISCOPAL
1. RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES-PROPERTY-TRUSTS. A grantor conveyed land to grantees by a deed which recited that, in consideration of a sum paid by the grantees "as trustees of" an unincorporated church, the land was conveyed to the grantees "trustees, their heirs and assigns." The building erected on the land was paid for by the members of the church. The church did not become affiliated with a denominational organization. Held, that the only trust affecting the property was that which resulted from the payment of the money for the building, and the same was not subject to the control of a denominational organization.
[Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 42, Cent. Dig. Religious Societies, § 146.]
2. APPEAL-EXCEPTIONS TO RULINGS OF MASTER-NECESSITY.
Where no exceptions were taken to the exclusion of evidence by the master, the questions are not open to review.
[Ed. Note. For cases in point, see vol. 2, Cent. Dig. Appeal and Error, § 1504.] 3. RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES-TITLE TO PROPERTY
A grantor conveyed land to grantees by a deed reciting that, in consideration of money paid by the grantees as trustees of an unincorporated church, the land was conveyed to the grantees, "trustees, their heirs and assigns.' A building erected on the land was paid for by the members of the church. Held, in a suit by new trustees against persons acting as new trustees, involving the right to the property, that the intention of the grantor to vest the property in the grantees as trustees was immaterial; for, if the deed was to the grantees as trustees, the title to the property did not vest in others by force of their appointment as trustees.
Appeal from Supreme Judicial Court, Worcester County.
Suit by Reason T. Lee and others against the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and others. From a decree dismissing the bill, plaintiffs appeal. Affirmed.
J. L. Mitchell, for plaintiffs. Jos. K. Greene, for defendants.
LORING, J. This case comes before us on an appeal from a decree confirming a report made by a master and dismissing the plaintiffs' bill. Exceptions were taken to the master's report, which are impliedly overruled by the decree in question.
The master found that for 40 years last past there has been in the city of Worcester an unincorporated religious society by the name of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. We shall speak of it hereafter as the Bethel Church. The contest here is in effect between two corporations of
the same religious faith, for the control of the church building used by the Bethel Church and the land on which it stands, to wit, the African Methodist Episcopal Church of America, chartered under the laws of Ohio, and the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, incorporated under the laws of New York. We shall speak hereafter of them as the African Methodist and the Methodist Churches respectively.
For the past 26 years of its existence, that is to say, until 1892, the Bethel Church held services in a hall hired for the purpose. On April 14, 1892, the land in question was conveyed to Amos T. Jackson and three others by one Merrell, who then owned it. This deed stated that in consideration of one dollar and other valuable considerations paid by Jackson and the others "all of the city and county of Worcester and commonwealth aforesaid, as trustees of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church," the land is conveyed to Jackson and the others, "trustees, their heirs and assigns forever," to have and to hold to the grantees, "trustees, and their heirs and assigns, to their own use and behoof forever." The master finds that the land and building were paid for with money raised and contributed by the members of said Bethel Church.
From the beginning up to June, 1904, the pastors of the Bethel Church were appointed by the African Methodist Church. Until 1891 the Bethel Church was known as a "mission"; after 1891 as a "station." While a mission it was not regularly supplied with a pastor, but since it became a station a pastor has been annually assigned to it by the African Methodist Church. The salary of the pastor thus assigned was paid by the Bethel Church.
The master states in his report that "there was no evidence introduced before me to warrant the conclusion that Bethel Church had ever been dedicated as a church of the African Methodist Episcopal connection, nor that any formal union between the said two churches ever existed. The evidence tended to show that there never was any dedication of said Bethel Church, nor any formal union with the said Methodist Episcopal Church." It appears that in 1904 the Bethel Church thought its building inadequate for its needs, and raised $409.08 for the construction of a new church building. They applied to the African Methodist Church for aid, without success. They then opened negotiations with the Methodist Church, looking toward severing their connections with the African Methodist Church and taking on ecclesiastical connections with the Methodist Church, if the latter would give them the aid they wished. This the Methodist Church promised to do. Thereupon a special meeting of the Bethel Church was called for November 9, 1904, at which the offer of the Methodist Church was accepted. The membership of Bethel Church, on November 9, 1904, was 35.
How many were present at this meeting was not disclosed in the evidence. On December 7, 1904, 28 members of the Bethel Church sent to one Jacobs, the presiding elder of the African Methodist Church, a withdrawal from that church. Jacobs was the presiding elder "into whose official charge the said Bethel Church was given" by the African Methodist Church. On December 14th, Jacobs came to Worcester and announced that he would preach on January 25th, and would hold a meeting to investigate the withdrawal on Monday, January 26, 1905. The meeting was not held. "After January 26, 1905, Dr. Jacobs, acting on the theory that the Rev. W. B. Perry had resigned as pastor of said Bethel Church, and that the trustees duly elected in June or July, 1904, had also resigned by the effect of said letter and certificate, proceeded to assume the duties as pastor of said church, and also, about February 1, 1905, proceeded as pastor to appoint three trustees of said Bethel Church, and appointed Reason T. Lee, James McKinney and Stephen Cook, named in the entitling clause of the plaintiffs' bill. After January 26, 1905, Dr. Jacobs did not formally call any other meeting of the members of Bethel Church for any purpose." On or about February 1, 1905, "as a further step in carrying out the said agreement between" the Bethel Church and the Methodist Church, the members of the Bethel Church in a body and as a church were received into the Methodist Church, and on April 1, 1905, their pastor, Rev. W. B. Perry, was received into conference relations with the New York church. "Since April 1, 1905, said Bethel Church has been conducted by the said Perry, under the supervision of a presiding elder appointed by the New England Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and in accordance with the discipline thereof, and has since ceased to have ecclesiastical or other relations with the said African Methodist Episcopal Church."
On March 9, 1905, the present bill was filed by the three persons appointed by Dr. Jacobs as trustees after January 26, 1905, against the Methodist Church corporation and Albert A. Nunally and two others who, in December, 1904, were the trustees of the Bethel Church, and who had undertaken to convey the land and church building as trustees of the "Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church" to themselves as "trustees of the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church." It does not appear that Jackson and the other grantees in the deed of April 14, 1892, ever conveyed the premises therein described to Nunally and his associates or any one else. The prayer of the bill was for an injunction restraining the defendants from preventing the plaintiffs from enjoying the use of the land and church building in question; that Nunally and his associates be directed to convey the land and church building to the plaintiffs and deliver up to
them the $409.08 raised for building a new church. The conclusion of the master was that the bill should be dismissed.
The case was recommitted to the master. On the second hearing conflicting evidence was offered by the plaintiffs, for the purpose of showing that it was the intention of the grantor in the deed to Jackson and others to convey the property to the trustees in a trust capacity and not in their individual capacity. This evidence was heard de bene and finally excluded by the master. No exception was taken to the master's report by reason of this ruling.
Neither counsel dealt specifically with the several exceptions. We shall deal with the case accordingly.
The plaintiffs' contention here is that "the defendants having severed their membership with Bethel A. M. E. Church, a religious society, forfeited their rights to its property." In support of this contention he has cited among other cases Shannon v. Frost, 3 B. Mon. (Ky.) 253; Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. (U. S.) 679, 20 L. Ed. 606; Rose v. Christ, 193 Pa. 13, 44 Atl. 240; Francke v. Mann, 106 Wis. 118, 81 N. W. 1014, 48 L. R. A. 856. But the difficulty with that argument and those citations is that no facts like the facts on which those cases were decided are found by the master in the case at bar. The plaintiffs' counsel has assumed in his argument that the Bethel Church became a part of the African Methodist Church, and that by force of the "discipline" of that church its property became the property of that church. But on the findings of the master the Bethel Church did not become a part of the African Methodist Church, and we cannot say that its property would have become the property of the African Church by force of the "discipline" of that church if it had. For we have no means of knowing what the "discipline" so often referred to by counsel for the plaintiffs is. It is not made a part of the master's report, and the evidence before the master is not before us.
All that appears is that the land in question was conveyed to Jackson and others to their own use and that the land and building were paid for by money raised and contributed by members of the Bethel Church. That church never has been dedicated as a church of the African Church, and no formal union between the Bethel Church and the African Church has ever existed.
Under these circumstances the only trust affecting the property in question was that which results from the payment of the money. Just what that trust would be need not be considered here. It is enough that on the facts before us it does not result in a trust subjecting the land to the ownership and control of the African Methodist Church.
On the findings of the master, which alone are before us, the plaintiffs have failed to show any right of property, possession or