Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County in case of In Re: Appeal of Co-star Marine, No. 93 C.D. 1976.
P. Raymond Bartholomew, with him Cusick, Madden, Joyce and McKay, for appellant.
William J. Begley, Assistant Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Blatt, sitting as a panel of two. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
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The Appellants, Alexander Co-star and Mary Louise Co-star, do business as Co-star Marine, and have appealed here from an order of the Court of Common
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 449]
Pleas of Mercer County which affirmed a tax assessment made by the Mercer County Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes (Board).
The Appellants lease federally owned land under an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, and their lease gives them the right to erect certain structures on this land which will remain their property but which must be removed on or before the expiration or termination of the lease. They built such a structure, a steel service building, at their own expense, and Mercer County taxed this building pursuant to the taxing powers granted by The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law*fn1 (Act). The Board and the lower court upheld the imposition of the tax and it is from this determination that the Appellants here appeal.
The question of entitlement to tax exemption is a mixed one of law and fact and, absent any abuse of discretion or lack of supporting evidence or an error of law, the decision of the court below is binding on this Court. See Lutheran Social Services v. Adams County Board for Assessment and Revision of Taxes, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 580, 364 A.2d 982 (1976). The Appellants argue that the building is exempt from local taxation under state law and alternatively under the doctrine of federal immunity from state taxation.
Article 8, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that the "General Assembly may by law exempt from taxation . . . (iii) [t]hat portion of public property which is actually and regularly used for public purposes." Accordingly, the General Assembly in Section 202(a)(7) of the Act has exempted the following from local taxation:
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 450]
All . . . public property used for public purposes with the ground thereto annexed and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same; but this shall not be construed to include property otherwise taxable which is owned or ...