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Cambridge Assessors Follow the Precedent of the Williams Case.


For the first time the assessors of Cambridge have levied a tax on nine houses owned by the University and occupied by professors as private residences. This is done as a direct result of the precedent established by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Williams College Case last February. The houses are at 10 and 11 Frisbie place, 17 Kirkland street, and 11, 16, 17, 25, 37, and 38 Quincy street, and the tax amounts to $2922.50. On Jan. 12, Mr. E. W. Hooper, Treasurer of Harvard College, sent a petition to the assessors asking for an abatement of the tax, and on Jan. 21, the following answer was returned:

"E. W. Hooper, Esq., Treasurer of Harvard College:

"DEAR SIR-We have to acknowledge the receipt of a petition in behalf of the President and Fellows of Harvard College for Students for abatement of taxes on certain parcels of real estate, regarding which we will say that we believe the tax valid and properly assessed, and do therefore decline to grant said petition.

"Respectfully yours,

"THE BOARD OF ASSESSORS."Some of the houses in question have been taxed in the past when occupied by persons not connected with the University. The matter will come up at the next meeting of the City Council and will then probably go to the Supreme Court for final settlement.

In the Williams case the college asked for exemption from taxation on several residences occupied by professors on the ground that these houses, although used only as residences from which the college derived rent, were being used for the purposes for which the institution was incorporated. The case was carried to the Supreme Court and resulted in the following finding:

"In the present case the occupants were each in the sole occupation of the premises, and the occupation was strictly for private purposes, and the control of the premises, while they occupied, was with them. That the rent was paid by a deduction made by the college monthly from the salary, instead of being paid directly to the college, is immaterial. It has been held many times that to exempt the real estate of a corporation under the statutes we are considering, it is not enough that the income is applied to the purposes of the corporation, but the real estate itself must be occupied for those purposes. It is not enough that the corporation derives a benefit from the occupation of the real estate, but the real estate must be occupied by the corporation or its officers for the purpose of carrying into effect the purposes of the corporation."

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