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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 79

Opinions of Counsel index

Tax sales (purchase by county) (public auction requirement) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1008:

A county board of supervisors may authorize the county treasurer to acquire liens at a tax sale without competitive bidding, notwithstanding a public auction requirement in a special act governing the enforcement of collection of unpaid taxes in the county.

We have been asked whether Jefferson County may exclude outside bidders at a sale of tax liens for unpaid taxes.

A special act enacted in 1883 (L.1883, c.157, last amended by L.1899, c.213) sets forth the procedures for the enforcement of the collection of unpaid taxes in Jefferson County. Section 6 of this act requires tax liens to be sold at public auction. Section 1008 of the Real Property Tax Law, as amended by L.1973, c.30l, on the other hand, authorizes sale without competitive bidding.

Section six of the Jefferson County Tax Enforcement Act reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

SECTION 6. The county treasurer shall ... cause to be published once in each week for six weeks ... a list or statement of the several parcels of real estate charged with such tax, fees and interest, and so liable to be sold . ... And also a notice that the said several parcels of real estate, or so much of each parcel as shall be necessary to satisfy the amount due thereon, will, on a day at the expiration of said six weeks, to be specified in such notice, be sold at public auction at the court house, in said county, to discharge the taxes, fees, interest and expenses aforesaid which may be due thereon at the time of sale. ... (emphasis added)

In contrast. Real Property Tax Law, section 1008, subdivision 3, reads as follows:

3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law the board of supervisors of any county may by resolution authorize and direct the county treasurer to purchase lands at the tax sale, without competitive bidding, for the gross amount due thereon. (emphasis added)

Although section six of the Jefferson County act calls for a “public auction,” the express language of Real Property Tax Law, section 1008, subdivision 3, authorizes the purchase of liens at tax sale without competitive bidding, notwithstanding any other provision of law. The applicability of this section to Jefferson County is further indicated in that section 1008(3) provides that the board of supervisors of any county may pass the necessary resolution to authorize the county treasurer to purchase lands at a tax sale without competitive bidding. Therefore, it is our opinion that Jefferson County may, by resolution, authorize and direct the county treasurer to purchase lands at tax sale, without competitive bidding.

February 9, 1978

Updated: