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THE NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT OUR HEVIKOE LAW Tha Independent Ha an Ain-filjt n to Suggeet Regarding Mon-I'rodudiv Peraoaal Property The constitution of Nebraska pro vides that "The legislature shall provide such revenue as may be needful, by levying a tax by valuation, so that every per son and corporation shall pay a tax in proportion to the value of his, her or its property and franchises, the value to be ascertained in such manner as the legislature shall direct." (Sec. 1, ArL IX., Const, of Neb.) This, unless it shall be am' tided in the future, effectually ties the state down to what is known as the general property tax. Nothing is exempt the oretically - except the classes of prop erty enumerated in section 2, which need not be mentioned here. In the ory all property, movable and immov able, tangible and intangible, re;il and personal, is subject to taxation in pro portion to value. In practice a great deal of movable or intangible prop erty escapes altogether, and a lare amount is notoriously under-valued a3 compared to other like property. The constitution requires taxes to be levied proportionally and on va1 ues. In other words, an ad valorem tax. Whether property be taxed on full value or a fraction of that does not matter so there is uniformity. In practice perhaps no property what ever is assessed at full or fair cm . value, although the statute requires it. lint there is a higher law than the mere enactments of legislatures, and no amount of penalties and fines and imprisonment of assessing officers will ever secure a full compliance of the law as it now stands or as it may be amended, so long as the system pre vails of levying state and county taxes upon all the property in the state. A separation is essential to more equit able taxation, so that land will pay none but local taxes, and state gov ernment be maintained by revenues raised in some other way, say by rail road taxes, etc. But we are tied to our present sys tem for perhaps years to come and must male the best of it. The framers of our revenue law were men (at least there was one of them) who believed the taxation of personal property to be a grand farce but they were obliged to comply with the constitution. In their endeavors to make the provisions for assessing personal property so thorough as to let nothing escape, they arranged a Bchedule of some 30 items of person alty. Experience has shown that seven of these items ought to be made into two, and. as to one of the items, the valuation ascertained in a manner rad ically different from that which now obtains. The Independent would divide Item 34, "the value of household or office furniture and property," so that office furniture and property would stand as an item by itself. Then six other items would be consolidated with and be elapsed as household furniture anr property. These six items are: Watches and clocks, sewing and knit ting machines, piano fortes, melodeons and organs, gold or silver plate and plated ware, diamonds and jewelry. These s-evon items as at present listed comprise scarcely U2 per cent of the grand assessment roll, and the six above enumerated paid less than i2 of 1 per cent of the taxes in 1900, as the following table will bear wit Hess ar?AKr ASSESSMENT ROLL 1900. Valuation. Per cent. All property.... $171,747,593 100.00 Watches & clocks 129.833 0.07 Sew. & K. mach. 200,314 0.12 Piano fortes.... 281.000 0.16 G.. S. & P. ware 23,091 0.01 Diamonds & J... 23.078 0.01 Hshld & O. fur.. 1,793.402 1.04 Seven items...? 2,593.970 1.49 yjii tiiu -. v the state, this would make the aver age assessment to the family about $12.90 for the seven classes of prop ertyan amount so insignificant as to be absurd, and, if we do not look at the assessment of real property, gives good ground for the railroad conten tion that the roads pay enough taxes. Now, as was said before, it would not matter if only there were some semblance of uniformity in the mani fest undervaluations but we know there is scarcely any attempt at uni fority. Out in one of the school dis tricts of Lancaster county each farm household is assessed $5 on house hold goods.' and although below the average, yet even the $5 valuation is excessive when we stop to consider some household assessments in Lin coln and Omaha. A poor struggling professional man in Lincoln pav? taxes on $40 assessed against about 250 for household goods. Another Llncolnlte worth ten thousand dollars pays per sonal taxes on an assessment of $10. The trouble is that no assessor can assess houseLold goods and the other six classes of property . (unless he is gifted .with second-sight) with any hope of even guessing what the prop erty is worth. To the unpracticed eye a $15 or $20 rug looks as good as one that cost $250 or even $500. A solid gold watch with the finest of works looks about the same as a Boss filled case with cheap Swiss works. And who but an expert can tell a real dia mond from paste? The legislature has authority to di rect the manner by which the value of different property may be ascertained. There is no hard and fast rule as to this. The class of property under con sideration is unproductive and de teriorates very fast, as one may learn by visiting his "uncle" or a second hard man. The uniformity clause pertains to proportional taxation on values after they are ascertained; but one need not apply the same rules in valuing a horse that he does in valuing a painting. Undoubtedly the legislature can prescribe one method of ascertaining the value of household goods, another for railroads, and stii: another for farm lands. The principal thing is to ascertain the value in the best possible manner. Now, the family living In a $10-a-month house have as a rule watches and clocks, sewing machines, organ, silverware and furniture to correspond. There may be a good library, but no musical instrument, or vice versa. But $10 rent means $10 furnishings. The family who pay $50 a month rent will have at least five times the value of the seven items named maybe more; but there is no exact justice in taxation only approximate. Under the present system the chances . e that the $50 man will not pay more than twice as much taxes on his household goods as does the $10 man and often no more Hence, The Independent suggests an amendment Approximately the value of household goods in any household equals twice the annual rental paid for the house. Let that be the method of "ascertaining the value." If the oc cupant is a renter, there will be no trouble in finding out what be pays. If he owns his home, it need not be hard to estimate what it would rent for a much easier task than valuing second-hand furniture and plated spoons. The average yearly rental paid (or saveu) by 200,000 families in Nebras ka must be between $00 and $75 each, probably more. Applying our rule, tbp nnsei'ment would be close to three million dollars on the seven present classes named, consolidated as sug ped. This would be better than at present both absolutely and relatively, for the gross inequalities at present would be better equalized and the taxing power would lose nothing. - Railroads and Railways It is extremely difficult for even a lawyer to keep track of the wheels within - wheels of the railroad com panies in Nebraska. For taxation pur poses and for exercising eminent do main, there are about fifteen different companies in Nebraska known to the lax man as the Burlington or B. & But the line from Falls City to Lin coln is tue A. & N. for some purposes. That from Nebraska City to Lincoln the "Nebraska." That from Platts mouth to Kearney the B. & M. From Rulo west toward McCook the R. V. And so on. All these roads were long ago ab sorbed by the C. B. & Q. either "railroad" or "railway" company as suited the exigencies of the occasion. Until some months ago the different lines m Nebraska were operated by the w., B. & Q. "railroad" company, owner. How they are operated by the C, B. & Q. "railway" company, lessee. Fred Walker, the son of Peter II. Walker, was killed by an engine at Waverly last February and being the support of his aged parents on their farm near town the father wants $5. 000 damages. The engine was run ning by itself, forty miles an hour, when the ordinances limit the speed to ten, he says, and when his son issued from behind a long string of corn cribs onto the track he was struck by an engine. He had neither been able to hear or see it, says the father, first because it sounded no alarm and sec ond because of the cribs. The elder Walker sued for damages, but his attorney got mixed as to whether the Q is a "railroad" or a "railway" and the wrong company was sued as a matter of course, as Walker afterward discovered. So he now amends by including both companies. The Independent is not a "Green $ 1 6.40 Chicago and Return Tickets on sale November 30th to December 2d. Return limit December 8th, Call and get full information. Jt CITY TICKET OFFICE J J Cor. 10th and O Sts. Telephone 235. & v& 0 & BURLINGTON DEPOT 7th St., Bet. P & a O Tel. Burlington No. 1290. 5 ? ? jj? SSI I THE NORTHWESTERN LINE, PLUS. . . . S2.00 HOMESEEKERS' TICKETS-On sale November 18, December 2 and 16, to Many Points in Nebraska, North and South Da kota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and points in the Canadian North west. Return limit Twenty-One Days. City Ticket Office 1024 O STREET. Telephone 544. Korthwaitarn Union Sta., Cor. 9th and S Sts. Talaphona 502. E. R. Butler, C. T. A. B. T. Moore, D. T. A. R. W. McOlnnls, Gn'l Agent - LINCOLN, NEBRASKA. Bag" or "Mercury" or "Legal News," but it would suggest to Mr. Walker that he bring his action also against the B. & M. company, because it is a Nebraska corporation and has the right-of-way. Both brands of the C, B. & Q. are non-residents and he may find himself in federal court before long a very awkward place to fight a powerful corporation unless his suit also runs against the Nebraska com pany. Chairman Lindsay A great deal of free advertising has been given Harry Lindsay, the re- I lblican chairman, and he is cracked up to be the ablest campaign manager that ever manipulated republican boodle in Nebraska. The Independent believes he is greatly over-rated, sim ply because he has been successful; for, as Red Apple Jo Johnson says, "It is easy enough to win when things are coining your way, but hard to turn the tide when it's against you." R. B. Schneider, Orlando Teft, Brad Slaugh ter and a number of other republican celebrities, according to The Indepen dent's ideas, are just as able campaign managers as the gentleman who cir culated fac similes of forged passes and wants to wear the official shoes of W. S. Summers. Election night the first 20 or 30 pre cincts heard from indicated the elec tion of the entire fusion state ticket, and before midnight the telephone re turns said that Chairman Lindsay con ceded Thompson's election. After ward he felt foolish about the matter and had the republican papers deny that he ever said it. But the evidence is against him, for the Iowa State Register the next day printed the names of the fusion candidates, under the heading, "Nebraska Results," as being elected. That information cam.1 through the Associated press from re publican headquarters a little after 10 o'clock Tuesday night. Lindsay wanted to appear, very wise in the matter, but only succeeded in making an ass of himself. That Sew Book on The Big Horn Basin is off the press and ready for distri bution. It is a little bit the best publication descriptive of this wonderful section of Wyoming yet issued. It gives brief glimpses of its farms, gardens, cattle ranches, irrigating canals, oil fields and a word about the golden opportunities, illustrated by thirty-one splendid half tones from photographs. Free to any address on request. J. FRANCIS, G. P. A., Burlington Route, Omaha, Neb. Illinois Central Excursions 1 Jacksonville, Fla, $52.50. 1 Thomas ville, Ga., $48.80. 1 New Orleans, La., $43.00. 1 Vicksburg, Miss., $38.00. 1 Hammond, La., $43.00. 1 Daytona, Fla., $59.10. 1 Tampa, Fla., $65.20. 1 Palm Beach, Fla., $71.50. 1 Havana, Cuba, $106.70. 1 Jackson, Miss., $38.00. 1 St. Augustine, Fla., $55.40. 2 Mt. Clements, Mich., $34.10. 2 French Lick Springs, Ind., $30.90. 3 Chicago, 111., $14.75. ABOVE RATES ARE FOR ROUND TRIP TICKETS FROM OMAHA, NEB. Column 1 Tickets on sale daily; re turn limit June 1, 1902. Column 2 Tickets on sale daily; re turn limit 90 days. Column 3 Tickets on sale Novem ber 30, December 1 and 2; return lim it December 8. Round trip tickets on sale to nearly all points in the south and southeast. Stopovers allowed both going and re turning. Attention is called to the "Dixie Flyer," a through train via Nashville, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, At lanta and Macon to Jacksonville, Fla. Homeseekers' tickets, at rate of one fare plus $2, on sale first and third Tuesdays of each month, to points in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, etc. Correspondence invited and infor mation cheerfully given. Get copy of our beautifully illustrated booklet, cov ering points of interest in the Sunny South, at 1402 Farnam St., Omaha, Neb., or write W. H. BRILL, Dist. Pass. Agt, 111. Cent. R. R., Omaha, Neb. HOMESEEKERS' EXCURSIONS TO Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indian Terri tory, Trial, and many points in Lou isiana, Arizooa and New Mexico on October 21, November 4 and 18, De cember 2 and 16. Rate one fare plus $2 for the round trip. Arkansas is the finest fruit country in the world and is productive of cotton, corn, coal, min erals, grazing and the land is still ridiculously cheap. For descriptive pamphlets, folders, etc., call or apply, at City Ticket Office, 1039 O st. F. D. CORNELL, P. & T. AJ.