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Reported in New York Reports, Vols. 149 to 157, inclusive; Appellate
decisions, chronologically arranged.
WILLIAM E, SCHENCK,
Prepared under the direction of
The Legislature of 1896, by enacting the Liquor Tax Law, abandoned the system of granting licenses at the will of local boards of excise established in cities and towns of the State. Under that system, those engaged in the traffic were annually at the mercy of the officials in whom the licensing power was vested, and were continually under the influence of such officials, because they had the power of revoking licenses. Under the new system, uniform and fixed rates of taxation were established, on payment of which, any person not expressly prohibited might obtain a liquor tax certificate permitting the traffic in liquors at any designated place wherein traffic was not expressly prohibited by statute, and while the right to engage in the traffic in liquors was still a privilege, it was a privilege to which all persons desiring the same had equal rights under the statute. Furthermore, citizens complaining against those engaged in the traffic were no longer compelled to appeal for relief from officials, whose action in the discharge of their duties, had been characterized by corruption, favoritism, partisanship or fraud, but on proof of any infraction of the law could obtain relief as a matter of legal right in the courts.
A comparison of the reported cases arising under the excise laws in force immediately prior to the enactment of the Liquor Tax Law with the reported cases involving the provisions of the latter statute, shows a large increase which reflects this difference between the new and the old system.
It is therefore of importance, not only that the Liquor Tax Law and its amendments, defining the rights of those engaged in the traffic and of others affected by it, should be published and dis. tributed, but that the opinions of the courts construing the statute, should also be collated and published.
In view of the fact that the administrative, executive and judi. cial officers whose function it is to carry out one or another of the various provisions of the Liquor Tax Law, hold office for limited periods, and those who have become efficient through experience are succeeded by those inexperienced in excise matters, it should not be necessary for the latter to search the session laws for amendments to the general act which regulates the traffic in liquors, or to rely upon the digests annually published, imperfectly citing the reported decisions of the courts in relation to the Liquor Tax Law. Information about this statute, which annually returns a revenue of upwards of $18,000,000, and which regulates a business