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MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY TAX ASSESSMENT CASE (09/26/67)

decided: September 26, 1967.

MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY TAX ASSESSMENT CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1965, No. 3454, in re appeal of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company from assessment of Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County.

COUNSEL

Maurice Louik, County Solicitor, with him John F. Murphy and James Victor Voss, Assistant County Solicitors, and Francis A. Barry, First Assistant County Solicitor, for Board, appellant.

Niles Anderson, Solicitor, with him Justin M. Johnson, Assistant Solicitor, for School District of Pittsburgh, intervening appellant.

Frederick A. Boehm, Assistant City Solicitor, with him David Stahl, City Solicitor, for City of Pittsburgh, intervening appellant.

T. Robert Brennan, with him Harvey E. Robins, Leonard M. Mendelson, Gustav W. Wilde, and Brennan and Brennan, for appellee.

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

Author: Cohen

[ 426 Pa. Page 568]

This appeal involves the triennial assessment for the years 1963, 1964 and 1965 of property owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (owner) and located in the City of Pittsburgh. The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County (Board) placed an assessed value of $1,107,000 on the property.

Before the court below, the Board placed the assessment in evidence and rested. The owner offered in evidence the certification of the ratio of assessed value to market value for Allegheny County made by the State Tax Equalization Board. This offer was rejected by the court. The owner then offered testimony of a recognized real estate expert who testified that the fair market value of the property on January 1, 1963, was one million dollars.

The Board called as its only witness a realtor who had served as an assessor for the Board and was a member of the Board. He testified that the "actual market value" of the property on January 1, 1963, was $1,700,000 and the "fair market value" as fixed by the Board was $1,107,000.

In this case, as well as in all companion cases brought before this Court from Allegheny County, extensive testimony was taken regarding the common level ratio of assessed value to fair market value of real estate throughout Allegheny County for the

[ 426 Pa. Page 569]

    years 1958 through 1963. On behalf of the various taxpayers (including the present owner) testimony was presented by Dr. Raymond Richman, an economist, who had made a thorough study of sales of real estate in the county, had eliminated from consideration sales not negotiated at arm's length and had compared the assessed values to the sales prices in order to arrive at the ratio. For the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 Dr. Richman examined all such sales; for the year 1961 he used Census Bureau figures; for 1962 and 1963 he used a sampling technique. For 1962 and 1963 the average ratios ...


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