Glidden v. Harrington,
189 U.S. 255 (1903)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Glidden v. Harrington, 189 U.S. 255 (1903)

Glidden v. Harrington

No. 199

Argued March 12, 1903

Decided April 6, 1903

189 U.S. 255


Although this Court has never had occasion to determine exactly what the Fourteenth Amendment required in the assessment of ordinary annual taxes upon personal property, such proceedings should be construed with the utmost liberality, and while notice may be required at some stage of the proceedings, such notice need not be personal, but may be given by publication or by posting notices in public places. Such notices must be suitable, and it is only where the proceedings are arbitrary, oppressive or unjust that they are declared to be not due process of law.

The statute of Massachusetts which requires that all personal estate within or without the commonwealth shall be assessed to the owner, that personal property held in trust, the income of which is payable to another person, shall be assessed to the trustee in the city or town in which such other person resides, if within the commonwealth, and if he resides out of the commonwealth, shall be assessed in the place where the trustee resides, that the assessors before making the assessment shall give notice by posting in some public place or places, that in case the taxpayer shall fail to make returns, they shall ascertain as nearly as possible the particulars of the estate and estimated value, which shall be conclusive upon the owner unless he can show a reasonable excuse for omitting to make the return, also making provision for an application to the assessors for an abatement of taxes and for an appeal to the county commissioners, does not deprive taxpayers of their property without due process of law.

A person residing in Massachusetts and holding property in trust has the same opportunity to show that he held no property in trust as he has in regard to his individual property, and it is as much his duty to disclose it as though it were individual property.

This was an action brought in the Superior Court of Middlesex County by Harrington, collector of taxes for the City of Lowell, to recover a tax upon personal property, assessed upon the defendant as trustee, for the year 1889.

The case resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff, which was carried by exceptions to the Supreme Judicial Court, where the exceptions were ordered overruled, 179 Mass. 486, and the case remanded to the superior court, in which judgment was entered.

Page 189 U. S. 256

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