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Conrad v. County of Maricopa

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 27, 1932

GEORGE J. CONRAD, S.W. NEWTON, OSCAR C. BARTLETT, W. J. HORSPOOL, A. C. TAYLOR, G. J. HAMMOND and BEN L. RUDDEROW, as Trustees for ARIZONA LODGE No. 2, FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS, Appellants,
v.
COUNTY OF MARICOPA, IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA, and CITY OF PHOENIX, a Municipal Corporation, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Joseph S. Jenckes, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Mr. E. O. Phlegar, for Appellants.

Mr. Dudley W. Windes, for Appellee County.

Mr. Charles A. Carson, Jr., for Appellee City.

OPINION

Page 614

[40 Ariz. 391] LOCKWOOD, J.

This is a suit by George J. Conrad and others, as trustees for Arizona Lodge No. 2 Free and Accepted Masons, hereinafter called plaintiffs, to recover from the county of Maricopa and the city of Phoenix, a municipal corporation, hereinafter [40 Ariz. 392] called defendants, certain taxes paid by plaintiffs on property held by them in trust for such lodge, situated in the city of Phoenix, and commonly known as the Masonic Temple. The case was heard before the court, which rendered judgment in favor of the defendants, and the matter is before us for review.

The question involved is one of law, as there is no serious dispute on the facts, the only disagreement being as to the inferences to be drawn therefrom. The case must be determined by the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution and statutes. These provisions read, so far as applicable to this case, as follows:

". . . Property of educational, charitable and religious associations or institutions not used or held for profit may be exempted from taxation by law. . . ." Section 2, art. 9, Constitution of arizona.

". . . All property shall be subject to taxation, except . . . hospitals, asylums, poor houses, and other charitable institutions for the relief of the indigent or afflicted, and the lands thereto appurtenant, with their fixtures and equipment, not used or held for profit. . . ." Section 3066, Rev. Code 1928.

The position of plaintiffs may be stated syllogistically as follows: (a) "Charitable institutions" for the relief of the indigent and afflicted, and the lands thereto appurtenant with their fixtures and equipment not used or held for profit, are exempt from taxation under section 3066, supra; (b) Arizona Lodge No. 2, Free and Accepted masons, is a "charitable institution" for the relief of the indigent and afflicted which owns property not used or held for profit, among such property being the Masonic Temple; (c) therefore the Masonic Temple is exempt from taxation.

It is the contention of defendants, on the other hand, that the proposition stated by plaintiff, while plausible upon its face, when analyzed contains the [40 Ariz. 393] fallacy known in logic as that of the four terms. In other words, that the "charitable institution" in the minor premise is a very different thing from the "charitable institution" exempt from taxation in the major premise.

There are two general principles which we think are applicable to this situation. The first is that laws exempting property from taxation are to be construed strictly. The presumption is against the exemption, and every ambiguity in the statute will be construed against it. Weller v. City of Phoenix, 39 Ariz. 148, 4 P.2d 665; Philadelphia etc. R. Co. v. Maryland, 10 How. 376, 13 L.Ed. 461.

The second is the well-known rule of ejusdem generis, to the effect that when general words follow the enumeration of particular classes, the general words will be limited to persons or things of the ...


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