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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 90

Opinions of Counsel index

Tax bills (questionnaire concerning property boundaries enclosed) - Tax Law, § 5:

A town may enclose, along with tax bills, questionnaires asking a property owner to state the boundaries of his property.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether towns may enclose along with tax bills, a questionnaire asking a property owner to state the boundaries of his property.

Section 5 of the Tax Law provides as follows:

§ 5. Use of tax or other notices to distribute advertising and propaganda material:

“1. Any person, firm, corporation, or association, or agent or employee thereof, who mails or delivers or causes to be mailed or delivered, any notice, circular, pamphlet, card, hand-bill, printed or written notice of any kind other than that which is authorized or required by law with a statement of moneys due the state of New York or any political subdivision thereof, or with a tax bill or notification of a tax to be assessed or levied by the state of New York or any political subdivision thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

“2. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, it shall be lawful for the governing body of any political subdivision, by resolution unanimously passed to designate a particular written or printed notice relating to water rates, sewer rentals, permit fees and other fees and charges payable to the political subdivision to be included with said tax bill or notification of a tax to be assessed or levied.”

The heading of such section refers to “advertising and propaganda material”. The heading is considered as part of the section, and should be construed accordingly. In our opinion, it was not the intention of the Legislature to bar the action inquired about by denoting it a crime. It would appear that the form contemplated to be enclosed with tax bills relates directly to the taxing process, and towns may enclose a questionnaire asking a property owner to state thereon the boundaries of his property. The Comptroller has expressed the same opinion in 14 Op. State Compt. 389.

December 6, 1972

NOTE:  But see Opinion 9-14.

Updated: