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Pulaski County Bd. of Equalization v. Am. Republic Life Ins.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

February 13, 1961, Opinion Delivered

No. 5-2305


 [*124]   [**661]  The principal issue presented here is the constitutionality of Act 396 of 1955, which  [*125]  provides a special procedure for the taxation of shares of stock in life insurance companies, banks, and trust companies. Ark. Stats. 1947, §§ 84-510 and 84-511. The present controversy over the [***3]  proper assessment of the stock in the appellee corporation has gone forward in the usual way, proceeding from the county assessor's original assessment to the equalization board and thence to the county court and the circuit court. This appeal is from a judgment holding the act in question to be invalid and exempting the appellee from compliance with its provisions.

A preliminary issue is raised by one of the appellants, the Little Rock School District. When this proceeding reached the circuit court the school district sought to intervene, asserting that it is one of the agencies entitled to share in the revenues derived from the property tax and that it therefore has a direct interest in the outcome of the case. The circuit court refused to permit the intervention, although counsel for the school district were allowed to participate in the case. It is now contended that the district was entitled to intervene as a matter of right.

The court below was right in refusing to permit the intervention. Necessary parties may intervene as a matter of right, but the question of permitting others to enter a case lies within the court's discretion. "Intervention is not a common law right,  [***4]  but has long been recognized by the courts upon the principle that a party should be permitted to do that voluntarily  [**662]  which, if known, a court would require to be done." Board of Directors of St. Francis Levee Dist. v. Raney, 190 Ark. 75, 76 S. W. 2d 311. The school district is obviously not a necessary party to every proceeding for the determination of the assessed value of taxable property. By statute the prosecuting attorney has the duty of representing the public in a proceeding such as this one. Ark. Stats., § 84-708. If the school district may intervene as a matter of right the same privilege would have to be extended to  [*126]  the county, the various cities, other school districts, the holders of municipal bonds, and all the other beneficiaries of property taxation. There is no reason at all for saying that the circuit court abused its discretion in this case.

Turning to the merits, the basic purpose of Act 396 is to subject certain shares of stock to property taxation. To this end the president, secretary or principal accounting officer of each domestic life insurance company and of each bank or trust company is required to file with the assessor [***5]  of the county where the company's principal office is situated a sworn statement setting forth certain specified information about the market value of the corporation's outstanding stock. The ensuing property tax is to be paid by the corporation, but the act declares that its purpose is to recognize the shares of stock as the property to be taxed. In harmony with this view the statute empowers the corporation to pass the tax on to its stockholders by deducting its amount from any dividend accruing on the stock. The act provides a criminal penalty for an officer's failure to file the required return and also directs that the corporate charter be forfeited.

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233 Ark. 124 *; 342 S.W.2d 660 **; 1961 Ark. LEXIS 364 ***

Pulaski County Board of Equalization v. American Republic Life Insurance

Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from Pulaski Circuit Court, Second Division, Guy Amsler, Judge.

Disposition: Affirmed.


stock, taxation, invalid, exempt, nonresident, valuation, species, domestic