Amador Valley Joint Union High School Dist. V. State Board of Equalization (1978) – possibility that 2 identical properties will be taxed differently, but majority held that it was fair b/c tax reflects price purchasers were originally willing and able pay for their property
Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co, v. County Comm’n of Webster County, West Virginia (1989) - Allegheny pays 20x more in taxes than a coal mine next door because it was bought later and assessed at fair market value
Court held the tax system (like CA Proposition 13), as applied by Webster County, was unconstitutional because it violated equal protection clause
Seems like this can’t be good law if Proposition 13 is constitutional but Court says facts are different than in Amador
Unclear what this case stands for but maybe nothing more than the proposition that states cannot impose higher taxes on out of state coal companies than in state ones but the case seems to say that it is about more than that and that there is some real requirement that equally valuable pieces of property be assessed and taxed at equal rates
Nordlinger v. Hahn (1992) - Woman in CA claims that the fact that her house is taxed at a much higher rate than her neighbor’s identical house, just because she bought it later, is unconstitutional in terms of the equal protection clause but court rules against her
Seems at odds with Webster County - county tax assessors method through Proposition 13 is valid even though it seems to be unequal.
A conservative principle at stake that calls for a weak federal government and judiciary = states should be free to do what they want to do
Equal protection does not require not require territorial uniformity (i.e. cannot compare downstate with upstate properties) (Colt Industries)
Courts show a deference to legislature because it is procedurally difficult to push the legislature around.
Hellerstein v. Assessor of Town of Islip (1975) – in New York, property systematically is being assessed at much less than it market value
Tax scheme didn’t have a rational basis because law said assess land at full value and city had custom of assessing at a fraction.
Court also unsure whether it can throw legislators in jail for contempt so gave time and ordered legislature to fix.
Colt Industries, Inc. v. Finance Administrator of City of NY (1982) - legislature passes new statute in 1981 that says every property in NY state has to be assessed at X percent of market value, except in NY City or Nassau County (but doesn’t say what the rate in those two places is)
this basically goes against the Hellerstein opinion but Court holds statute constitutional
allows New York City and Long Island any tax scheme decided by gov't but rest of state has set policy. Ct. says both equal, just different procedure.
D. Other Cases Adlerstein v. City of New York (1959)
Plaintiff electricians claimed a $250 licensing fee was unconstitutional under equal protection
This fee covers inspection of work done by electricians unfair to require individual electrician who does little work to pay same as large contractor w/ big business