Publication 216, The First 100 Years

1879-1979



Prologue

The Constitutional Convention of 1849 provided the groundwork for the formation of the Board of Equalization. Article XI, Section 13 of the 1849 Constitution reads:

“Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the state. All property in this state shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as directed by law: but assessors and collectors of town, county, and state taxes, shall be elected by the qualified electors of the district, county, or town in which the property taxed for state, county or town purposes is situated.”

The failure of assessors and collectors to uphold this provision of “equal and uniform” taxation led to the creation of the Board of Equalization with an amendment to the State Constitution at the 1879 constitutional convention.

The Board of Equalization, consisting of the State Controller and one elected member from each of the four Equalization Districts, has been a mainstay of the state revenue and taxation programs. Although today’s Board differs little in structure from the 1879 Board, it has affirmed its flexibility and effectiveness by surviving a century of socio-economic change. This history of the Board relates the events and achievements that have made the Board the respected agency it is.