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MORROW ESTATE. (11/11/57)

November 11, 1957

MORROW ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 159, March T., 1957, from order of Orphans' Court of Allegheny County, No. 5131 of 1954, in re estate of J. Sandels Morrow, deceased. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

David Stahl, Assistant City Solicitor, with him J. Frank Mckenna, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellant.

William B. Paul, Andrew C. Van Gorder and Paul, Lawrence & Rock, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 390 Pa. Page 423]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

The City of Pittsburgh levies a personal property tax pursuant to ordinance authorized by the Act of June 25, 1947, P.L. 1145, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 6851-6859. The ordinance, which is re-enacted annually, adopts the assessments on personal property of residents of the city made by the officials of the County of Allegheny in administering the county personal property tax and uses the assessments so made to determine the amount of tax due the city under its ordinance. While the statute providing for the county personal property tax specifically permits retroactive assessment

[ 390 Pa. Page 424]

    of the tax against the estate of a decedent for a period of five years after the property should have been returned for taxation, Act of June 17, 1913, P.L. 507, as amended, 72 P.S. §§ 4821-4844.2, there is no similar legislative authority for the retroactive assessment and collection of the city tax.

The decedent Morrow, prior to his death in 1954 failed to file personal property tax returns either with the county or the city for the years 1951 to 1954. From the inventory which was filed in his estate the county obtained the necessary information and computed the amount of the personal property taxes which were due and delinquent. The city received this information from the county and billed the estate for the amount due it under its personal property tax ordinance for the years in which no assessments or payments were made. At the audit of the estate, the city's claim was contested and subsequently denied by the auditing judge. After exceptions were dismissed by the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County, en banc, this appeal by the city followed.

The sole legal issue before this Court is whether the City of Pittsburgh may assess and collect unpaid personal property taxes after the expiration of the year in which the return of the taxable property should have been made and the tax paid.

In Schmuck v. Hartman, 222 Pa. 190, 70 Atl. 1091 (1908) we held that tax assessments and reassessments which were not legislatively authorized were void, and that a tax may not be retroactively assessed in the absence of specific statutory authority. See also Allegheny County Personal Property Tax Assessment Cases, 349 Pa. 651, 37 A.2d 498 (1944). "[Taxes] can be collected in no other way than that pointed out by ...


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