THE TWO PER CENT TAX LAW.

THE TWO PER CENT TAX LAW.

MISCELLANY.

The following is the law, as amended at the last session of the legislature, relative to the two per cent tax on foreign insurance companies (including companies of other States) doing business in this State. It will be seen that it extends the privileges of the act to departments not heretofore enjoying them:

An act to amend chapter 465 of the laws of 1875, entitled, “ An act to require the payment of certain premiums to the fire department of cities and incorporated villages by fire insurance companies not organized under the laws of the State of New York, but doing business therein,” as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1876, and as amended by chapter 153 of the laws of 1879.

Passed June 8, 1886, three-fifths being present.

The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows :

SECTION I. Section 1 of chapter 465 of the laws of 1875, as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1876, is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

SUCTION I. There shall be paid to the treasurer of the fire department of every city or village of this State, whether incorporated or unincorporated, having a fire department company or organization, for the use and benefit of such fire department, and when no treasurer of a fire department exists, then to the treasurer or other financial officer of such city or village, who, for the purpose of this act, shall have the same power as the treasurers of fire departments, on the first day of February of each year, by every person who shall act as agent for or on behalf of any individual or association of individuals, or corporation not incorporated by or under the laws of this Stale, whose business is insuring against loss or injury by fire upon properly in this Slate, although such individual, association or incorporation may be incorporated for that purpose by any other State or country, the sum of two dollars upon the hundred dollars, and at that rate upon the amount of all premiums which during the year, or part of a year, ending on the last preceding thirty-first day of December shall have been received by such agent or person, or received by any other person for him, for any insurance effected or procured by him as such agent or broker against loss or injury by fire upon property situate within the corporate limits of such city or village.

Sue. 2 Section 2 of said act as so amended is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

SEC. 2. No person shall act as agent for any such individual, association or corporation as aforesaid, effect any insurance upon any property situate in any city or village of this State as aforesaid, upon which the above duty is required to be paid, or as such agent procure such insurance to be effected until Be shall have executed and delivered to the treasurer of the fire department of the city or village in which the property insured is situated, or if no treasurer of a fire department exists, then to the treasurer or other financial officer of such city or village, a bond to such fire department in the penal sum of $500, with such sureties as such treasurer or other financial officer shall approve, with a condition that he will annually render to said treasurer or other financial officer, on the first day of February, in each year, a just and true account, verified by his oath that the same is true, of all premiums which, during the year ending on the thirty-first day of December preceding such report, shall have been received by him or by any other person for him for any insurance against loss or injury by fire upon property situate in such city or village, which shall have been effected or procured by him to be effected by any such individual, association or corporation not incorporated by the laws of this State as aforesaid, and that he will annually, on the first day of February, in each year, pay to the said treasurer or other financial officer $2 upon every $100, and at that rate upon the amount of such premiums. But any such individual, association or corporation licensed to transact business in this State, on filing a bond in the penal sum of $2500 with the Superintendent of the Insurance Department, that it will make its account and pay the tax as aforesaid, may effect such insurance in any city, town or village wherein it has no agent.

SEC. 3. Section 3 of said act, as amended by chapter 153 of the laws of 1879, is hereby amended so as to read as follows :

SEC. 3. Every such agent, individual, association or corporation who shall effect any insurance specified in the preceding sections of this act, without having executed and delivered the proper bond required by the preceding section, shall, for each offense, forfeit $200, for the use and benefit of the fire department of such city or village ; such penalty of $200 shall be collected by and in the name of the fire department, treasurer or chief financial officer of the city or village in which the property is situated ; and the treasurer or chief financial officer of any such city or village, having no incorporated firemen’s relief or benevolent society, receiving any money under the provisions of chapter 465 of the laws of 1875, as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1S76, shall, on or before the fifteenth day of February in each year, apportion and pay over all such moneys so received to the treasurers of such of the several fire companies as are duly recognized by the common council, trustees or supervisors of such city or village. And if he shall neglect or refuse to perform any or all of the duties required by this act, he shall be subject to a penalty of $200 for such neglect or refusal ; and the foreman of any fire company shall be. entitled to, and may maintain an action and sue for, in the name of and for the benefit of such fire company, any of the proportion of penalties prescribed by this act; and premiums or penalties to which such company may be entitled under chapter 465 of the laws of 1S75, as amended by chapter 359 of the laws of 1876. But no action shall be maintained, or recovery be had, in any court of this Slate, for or on account of any such offense heretofore happening ; nor shall any such court have power or authority to render judgment for or on account of any such offense heretofore happening, when such agent shall have paid to the party entitled to the same the tax required to be paid by section one of this act.

SEC. 4. Every person whose property shall be insured in violation of section two of this act, and every person having the care or charge of property so insured, or of policies of insurance so placed in violation of said section, as agent or trustee for another, and who shall refuse or neglect to exhibit to the officer entitled by section one of this act to receive the per cent of premium in such section provided, all policies so placed upon such property, or shall neglect or refuse to give to such officer full information as to when, by whom, and in what company or companies such property shall be so insured, and the name of the agent, broker or other person connected with the effecting of such insurance, upon demand being duly made by such officer, shall become liable to an action by and in the name of the fire department, organization or company of which such officer shall be the treasurer, for the sum of $100 for each such neglect or refusal. All persons acting as brokers between any such agent or any such individual, association of individuals or corporation and the assured shall, within ten days after effecting any insurance as contemplated by this act, notify the officer entitled to receive the tax upon the premium upon said insurance, of the fact of such insurance, together with the precise location of the property, the name of the insurer and the amount of the premium to be paid by the assured. Any broker willfully neglecting or refusing to comply with the above requirements shall be liable to a like action and like penalty brought in the manner as above set out. Actions brought under this section must be tried in the county in which the property alleged to be so insured is situated. All moneys received pursuant to this section shall be apportioned and paid over in the same manner as is provided in section 3 of this act for the apportionment and payment of moneys received pursuant to said section and under like penalty.

SEC. 5. None of the provisions of this act shall apply to the insurance upon property situated in the cities of New York, Albany or Buffalo.

SEC. 6. No action or legal proceeding now pending, or right of action now existing, shall be affected by this act.

SEC. 7. The limits of any unincorporated village in this State shall be determined for the purposes of this act by the town board of the town in which such village is situated.

SEC. 8. All acts or parts of acts inconsistent with this act are hereby repealed.

SEC. 9. This act shall take effect immediately.

THE TWO PER CENT TAX LAW.

THE TWO PER CENT TAX LAW.

IN the report of the law committee submitted to the State Firemen’s Convention at Utica at its recent session is included the text of a bill prepared by that committee and submitted to the legislature last winter, relative to the two per cent tax law of this State. The committee state that the bill was defeated, and say: “This committee cannot state positively the reason why this bill was not passed, but supposed it was because of the action of the foreign insurance companies in opposition thereto—until an editorial was published in THE FIREMAN’S JOURNAL stating that the bill had been killed, and rightfully so, by prominent and influential members of the State Association, because it prevented the exempt and benevolent associations from participation in the two per cent.” That was our information at the time, and we have no reason to doubt its correctness. We know of many who are opposed to the wording of the bill, and will oppose it in the future as they have in the past. As the bill has been printed specially, and the firemen are asked to use their influence to have it passed this winter, it will not be out of place to review this tax law a little as it stands.

In the first place, there are two laws, one for the firemen of the State, and another for the firemen of New York, Brooklyn and Albany; both laws have been variously amended at different times, till it requires a clear judicial mind to interpret them. It was wise for the law committee to prepare a new bill that should concisely set forth what the law means, and, at the same time, explain fully what the firemen want. The law now provides that “ there shall be paid to the treasurer of the fire department of every city or incorporated village in this State, for the use and benefit of such fire department,” etc., the two per cent tax collected from insurance companies. This is the first section of the law of 1876. Various amendments have been made to other sections, but, as we understand it, section one stands as it was originally passed. In some of the amendments reference is made to exempt firemen’s societies, to relief associations and benevolent associations, but nowhere, as we can learn, is the tax made payable to such associations. On the contrary, the section above referred to makes it payable to the treasurers of the fire departments for the use and benefit of such’departments. It is the practice among the fire companies generally, as we believe, to set the money they receive from this source aside as a relief fund for disabled members, but there is nothing we can find in the existing law that makes it mandatory that it shall be used for such purpose. Indeed, it is a question whether a company has the right to put the money received from this tax into a relief fund, for the law says it shall be “ for the use and benefit of the fire department,” and if it is paid out to relieve the necessities of disabled firemen, it is individuals who are getting the benefit of it and not the fire department. The proposed bill does not remedy this defect, for it retains the old phraseology.

What amendments should be made to existing laws depends upon what use the firemen desire to put the money to realized from this tax. If they wish it applied to the payment of current expenses of the fire department the law is well enough as it stands ; but if they desire it to be used exclusively for relief purposes, then the bill should state that intention so clearly that the money cannot possibly be applied in any other way. It would be a simple matter to change the wording of the bill if desired to cover this point. We hold that it is the duty of every community to maintain its own fire department, and that no part of a special State tax of this nature should be used for that purpose. If the State chooses to recognize the relief associations organized by firemen, and to make to those who are disabled some compensation for their disability, so much the better for the firemen ; but because they receive such benefit from a tax imposed by the State, the city or village authorities have no right to make this a pretext for reducing the appropriation for the maintenance of an adequate fire department. The propertyowners of such city or village have the exclusive benefit of their own fire department, and they ought to pay for it; and it is the exception when they make any provision for those who are injured in their service. The money designed for the relief of disabled firemen constitutes a fund that is too sacred to be used for current expenses. If it is not designed for a relief fund, but for the maintenance of the fire department, why not turn it into the public treasury directly, and let it be added to the fire department appropriation ? But we believe it was intended as a relief fund, and, consequently, should not be for “the use and benefit of the fire department.” The intention of the law makers is more clearly expressed in the law relative to New York, Brooklyn and Albany, for in that the tax is made payable to the relief fund, and not one dollar can be touched for the expenses of the department. No one but disabled and retired firemen or their widows or orphans gets a cent of this money under that law. The Court of Appeals of this State last year reviewed the history of this legislation in the case of the Exempt Firemen’s Benevolent Fund of the City of New York vs. The Fire Association of Philadelphia, an insurance company doing business in New York, upholding the right of the State to provide for disabled firemen and affirming the constitutionality of the law. That the law relative to other cities is equally valid there can be no doubt. The only objection to it is that it is not sufficiently explicit as to the disbursement of the money after it has been collected. If it is the purpose to use it as a relief fund for firemen, the law should say so definitely, and not have it so that it can by any possibility be used to pay current expenses. We suggest to the new law committee the propriety of a careful revision of the law ; it is just as easy to have it amended so as to cover all the ground required as to tinker it in places, and thus preserve objectionable features.

—Young America Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 of Newburyport, Mass., has been invited to attend the Amesbury parade October a, as guests of the M. D. F, Steere Hook and Ladder Company of that place.