APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Joseph S. Jenckes, Judge. Judgment reversed and cause remanded, with directions to enter verdict for plaintiff.
Messrs. Baker & Whitney and Mr. Lawrence L. Howe, for Appellant.
Mr. Dudley W. Windes, for Appellee.
ROSS, C. J.
The stock of merchandise of Sears, Roebuck and Company was regularly assessed by the county assessor of Maricopa county for the year 1931 at a valuation of $36,715, upon which it paid its taxes amounting to $1,358.46, calculated on the basis of the county and state tax rate for the previous year, and was receipted therefor by the assessor in full of its taxes for the year 1931. It owned no real property.
[41 Ariz. 305] Thereafter, in August, 1931, the state tax commission, sitting as a board of equalization, increased the assessed valuation of said property $43,445. To prevent the county assessor and county attorney, who were threatening to distrain and sell sufficient of its personal property to satisfy the taxes on the additional assessment, the company paid the taxes thereon, amounting to $1,607.47, under protest, taking the assessor's receipt therefor, and thereafter brought this action to recover said sum. A general demurrer to the complaint was sustained, and, the plaintiff declining to amend, judgment went against it.
The plaintiff appeals from such judgment, contending that the payment of the taxes on the valuation made by the assessor was a full and complete acquittance for the taxes on its property for the year 1931, and that the additional valuation placed on its property by the state board of equalization was without authority of law and void. If this contention is right, plaintiff should have had judgment against the county.
A determination of the question requires, of course, an examination and construction of our taxation laws as contained in chapter 75, section 3056 et seq., Revised Code of 1928. The law makes it the duty of the county assessor, except where otherwise provided, to ascertain, list and value the county's property for taxation purposes, and fixes the period in which this is to be done between the first Monday in January and the first day of May in each year (section 3074). A
tax lien against the property attaches on the first Monday in January, and is not "satisfied or removed until such taxes, penalties, charges and interest are all paid, or the property has finally vested in a purchaser under a sale for taxes" (section 3101). [41 Ariz. 306] "Each item of property in an assessment shall be liable for the taxes on all items of personal property in the same assessment" (section 3067). Any person not owning real estate within the county of sufficient value in the assessor's judgment to pay taxes on both the real and personal property of such person must pay his taxes when assessed, at the state and county rate for the previous year (section 3081). This last section contains a full and complete procedure for the assessor to follow when in his judgment the real estate will not secure all the taxes, real and personal, of such person. It says, in part:
"The county assessor, when he assesses the property of any person, not owning real estate within the county of sufficient value in the assessor's judgment to pay taxes on both the real and the personal property of such person, shall immediately collect the taxes on the personal property so assessed. . . ."
It further provides that, if the property owner after a demand neglects or refuses to pay the taxes, the assessor shall distrain and sell, after giving notice, sufficient of the personal property of such person to satisfy the taxes and costs and issue to the purchaser a certificate of sale. And it further provides that, "if the owner shall give bond with sufficient security, to be approved by the assessor, and sufficient to cover the amount of the taxes due and the costs incident to seizure, the said property shall be released to said owner."
It will be seen that, if the assessor seize and sell the property, or sufficient thereof to pay the taxes and costs, and issue to the purchaser a certificate of sale, the tax lien is "satisfied or removed," and the property may not again be revalued or reassessed during the current year. Likewise, if the owner exercise the privilege of giving a bond for "the amount of the taxes due and the costs incident to seizure," [41 Ariz. 307] the property is released to said owner, and thereafter the county's remedy is on the bond and not against the property.
Why should a different result follow when the owner of property promptly pays the taxes upon the value assessed by the assessor and receives his receipt therefor? When he does that, or when the taxes are realized on a sale, it is made the duty of the assessor to give him a receipt for his taxes "and thereafter mark the same paid, together with the amount opposite the ...