Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in cases of In re: Appeal of Richard B. Kirkpatrick and Dorothy Y. Kirkpatrick from the Butler County Commissioners, as the Board of Revision of Taxes, as to Personal Property Tax for the years 1968 and 1969, No. 3 March Term, 1971; In re: Appeal of Edwin M. Amy and Marie K. Amy, from the Butler County Commissioners, as the Board of Revision of Taxes, as to Personal Property Tax for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969, No. 2 March Term, 1971; In re: Appeal of Estate of Zeno F. Henninger, No. 4 March Term, 1971; and In re: Appeal of Estate of Elias Ritts, No. 5 March Term, 1971.
Richard B. Kirkpatrick, with him Lee A. Montgomery and Galbreath, Braham, Gregg, Kirkpatrick, Jaffe & Montgomery, for appellants, Kirkpatrick and Amy.
William C. Robinson, with him Henninger & Robinson, for appellants, Estates of Henninger and Ritts.
Lee C. McCandless, County Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Opinion by Judge Kramer (Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part). Judge Rogers joins in this Concurring and Dissenting Opinion.
We have for our consideration four appeals involving assessments of taxes by the Butler County Commissioners relative to the ownership by the appellants of stock of United Utilities, Inc. (United).
On September 13, 1966, the Peoples Telephone Company of Butler (Peoples) merged with United, and the stockholders of Peoples received stock of United in exchange for their stock of Peoples. At the time of the merger, United applied for and was granted a certificate of authority to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, six widely distributed tax services*fn1 listed United for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969 as not subject to the four-mill personal property tax imposed by the Act of June 17, 1913, P.L. 507, § 1, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4821.
The facts relating to the filing of the personal property tax returns for the stock in question and the action of the tax bureau were undisputed and were fairly summarized by the lower court as follows:
"1. The Amy returns filed for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969 simply reported 2201 shares. The bureau marked the stock exempt. The taxpayer did not include the United Utilities, Inc. stock in the aggregate actual value of his taxable property. Nor did the clerk of the tax bureau that completed the returns for the taxpayer.
"2. The Kirkpatrick returns filed for the years 1968 and 1969 reported ownership but not the number of shares. The bureau marked the stock exempt. The aggregate actual value of the taxable property was not reported in the returns.
"3. The Henninger return for 1967 reported ownership but not the number of shares. The bureau marked the stock exempt. The Henninger return for the year 1968 does not report ownership of United Utilities, Inc. stock. The Henninger return for 1969 reported ownership but does not indicate the number of shares. The bureau marked the stock ...