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H. K. PORTER COMPANY APPEAL (05/24/66)

decided: May 24, 1966.

H. K. PORTER COMPANY APPEAL


Appeal from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1962, No. 2181, and Jan. T., 1963, Nos. 3870, 3871 and 3874, in re appeal of H. K. Porter Company, Inc. from real estate tax assessment of Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County.

COUNSEL

W. Gregg Kerr, Jr., with him Paul R. Obert, and Eckert, Seamans & Cherin, for appellant.

Maurice Louik, County Solicitor, with him Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Assistant County Solicitor, and Francis A. Barry, First Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee.

Jon L. Friedman, with him David Friedman and Herbert R. Hahn, for intervening appellees.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Chief Justice Bell dissents.

Author: Cohen

[ 421 Pa. Page 439]

This is an appeal by the H. K. Porter Company from orders dismissing four separate real estate tax appeals arising from the assessment to appellant of two airplane hangars erected by appellant upon land leased to it by Allegheny County at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport in Findlay Township. The cases involve a reclassification on March 16, 1961 by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of property formerly assessed to the county and classified as exempt. On the aforesaid date, the properties in question were transferred on the tax rolls to the appellant and were placed in the taxable category. In each case two items were assessed to appellant:

[ 421 Pa. Page 440]

(1) appellant's leasehold interest in real property owned by the county; and (2) the airplane hangar situate on the leased premises.

In April 1959, March 1960 and January 1961, timely appeals were filed by the Township of Findlay and the School District of the Township of Findlay (intervening appellees) from the board's determination that the property here involved was tax exempt. Pursuant to these appeals the properties were reclassified by the board. On appeal the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County sustained the action of the board. This appeal followed.

Appellant argues that a leasehold interest is not taxable; that the property is exempt from taxation; that the assessment was ineffective as a retroactive change; and that certain evidence was improperly excluded by the lower court.

In Pennsylvania, the power to tax is statutory and must be derived from enactment of the General Assembly. Wilson v. Philadelphia School District, 328 Pa. 225, 195 Atl. 90 (1937). The statutory authority for real estate assessment in Allegheny County is the General County Assessment Law, Act of May 22, 1933, P. L. 853, § 201, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-201 (1965 Supp.), which provides, inter alia, for the assessment and taxation of: "(a) All real estate, to wit: Houses, house trailers and mobilehomes, buildings permanently attached to land or connected with water, gas, electric or sewage facilities, buildings, lands, lots of ground and ground rents, trailer parks and parking lots, mills and manufactories of all kinds, furnaces, forges, ...


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