Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of In Re: Appeal of Jack Haberman from Decision of Board of Assessment Appeals Regarding his Occupation Tax, No. 76-15283.
Lawrence Sager, with him Sager & Sager, for appellant.
Philip Salkin, with him Pearlstine, Salkin, Hardiman & Robinson, and Michael D. Marino, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.
This case involves an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County dated February 22, 1977. The order dismissed the appeal of Jack Haberman (Appellant) from an adjudication by the Board of Assessment Appeals of Montgomery County (Board), rejecting his challenge to an occupation tax assessment.
The Perkiomen Valley School District adopted a resolution providing for an occupation tax to be imposed, assessed, and levied upon residents within its jurisdiction pursuant to The Local Tax Enabling Act, Act of December 31, 1965, P.L. 1257, as amended, 53 P.S. § 6901 et seq. The Appellant, a physician, was assessed $800 in accordance with this resolution.*fn1 After the Board dismissed his challenge, the Appellant filed an appeal to the lower court pursuant to Section 518.1 of The General County Assessment Law, Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, as amended, added by Section 2 of the Act of December 28, 1955, P.L. 917, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-518.1.
In the lower court, which heard the matter de novo, the Appellant raised three contentions: (1) the valuations placed upon various occupations bear no reasonable relationship to the actual value of those occupations; (2) the assessments lack uniformity; and (3) the exemption of certain occupations from valuation and assessment is arbitrary and violates the uniformity
[ 37 Pa. Commw. Page 100]
and equal protection clauses of the Pennsylvania Constitution. After hearing, the court dismissed the appeal. In this Court, Appellant raises the same three issues he did in the court below.
Initially, we note that there exists a presumption that the local assessors performed their statutory duties and assessed the objects of taxation at their actual value. See Bradford County Appeal, 163 Pa. Superior Ct. 302, 60 A.2d 371 (1948). Furthermore, once the tax assessment records are admitted into evidence, there is a presumption of their validity. McKnight Shopping Center, Inc. v. Board of Property Assessment, 417 Pa. 234, 209 A.2d 389 (1965). The burden was upon the Appellant, therefore, to show that the valuations were unjust, inequitable, or not uniform in comparison with assessments of objects within the same classification. John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, Appeal, 360 Pa. 638, 63 A.2d 349 (1949).
With respect to the first issue, Appellant asserts that the assessors did not perform their duty under Section 402 of The General County Assessment Law, 72 P.S. § 5020-402. This Section requires that assessors rate and value all objects of taxation "whether for county, city, township, town, school, institution district, poor or borough purposes, according to the actual value thereof, . . ." Appellant contends that the actual value of the occupations is not reflected in the assessed value. He argues that the assessments are therefore invalid.
In support of this contention Appellant refers to the testimony of the member of the Board of Assessments in the lower court. The record reveals that the Board member demonstrated a complete lack of personal knowledge concerning the proper basis to be used in determining the actual ...