Original jurisdiction in case of William McConnell and Richard McConnell v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Revenue.
Mitchell A. Kramer, with him Alice G. Burt, Kramer & Salus, and Richard F. Stern, for petitioners.
Paul S. Roeder, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Craig, MacPhail and Williams, Jr. Judge Blatt did not participate. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 480]
William McConnell and Richard McConnell (petitioners), executors of the estate of John McConnell, on behalf of themselves and all other parties similarly situated, have filed a "class petition for review"*fn1 challenging the validity of a provision in the regulations of the Department of Revenue promulgated pursuant to the Senior Citizens Property Tax or Rent Rebate Act (Act), Act of March 11, 1971, P.L. 104, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4751-1 et seq. The provision, found at 61 Pa. Code § 401.43(a), provides as follows:
A claim for a property tax rebate or rent rebate in lieu of property taxes may be filed by the personal representative of a decedent's estate
[ 52 Pa. Commw. Page 481]
if, and only if, the decedent were alive on or after January 1 of the year next succeeding the calendar year for which a rebate is claimed.
Petitioners allege that this provision is unreasonable, since it denies a rebate to the estates of senior citizens who die during the year in which the real estate taxes or rents are paid, while allowing a rebate to those who survive until January 1 of the next tax year. Claiming that this provision bears no reasonable relation to the purposes of the Act, petitioners request this court to declare the present case a class action and, upon finding the provision at 61 Pa. Code § 401.43(a) invalid, enter judgment for all members of the class in the amount of the rebate allegedly due to them.
Respondent has filed preliminary objections to the petition, alleging, among other objections, that petitioners have an adequate remedy at law which precludes this court from exercising equity jurisdiction.*fn2 We agree.
It is well established that the prerequisites of equity jurisdiction in cases involving taxing authorities are (1) the existence of a substantial question of constitutionality and (2) the absence of an adequate statutory remedy. Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Indiana County Board of Assessment, 438 Pa. 506, 266 A.2d 78 (1970); Aldine Apartments, Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 32 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 296, 379 A.2d 333 (1977); Lilian v. Commonwealth, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 311 A.2d 368 (1973), aff'd, 467 Pa. 15, 354 A.2d 250 (1976).
Here, petitioners raise no question of constitutionality and thus, on this basis alone, are not entitled to relief. Nevertheless, we have also examined the ...