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Volume 7 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 91

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxes (bills) (failure to receive statement) (non-residents - liability for interest) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 922, 982, 984:

A non-resident owner of real property, who has satisfied the filing and fee requirements of section 982 or 984 of the Real Property Tax Law, is entitled to a statement of taxes by registered mail. If that statement is not provided, the owner is not liable for fees, interest or penalties, provided the tax is paid before the collecting officer makes his return of unpaid taxes.

We have been asked whether a non-resident owner of real property in New York State has any recourse when that owner receives a tax bill after the expiration of the period for the interest-free payment of that tax.

In New York State, taxes levied by the county are generally payable without interest through January 31st (Real Property Tax Law, §924(2)). Thereafter, interest accrues at the rate prescribed by the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance pursuant to section 924-a for each month or fraction thereof “until such taxes are paid or until the return of unpaid taxes to the county treasurer pursuant to law” (id.).

Property owners are entitled to an annual statement of taxes due, which is to be mailed by the collecting officer “upon receipt of the tax roll and warrant” (§922(1)) which is usually on or about December 31st each year (§904(1)). However, the Law also provides that “the failure to mail any such statement, or the failure of any such owner to receive the same, shall not in any way affect the validity of the taxes or interest prescribed by law” (§922(3)) (emphasis added). Thus, the fact that a tax bill arrives late does not confer the right to a waiver of accrued interest.

Non-resident owners do, however, have opportunities for additional notice which limit their liability for interest on unpaid taxes. By virtue of section 982 of the Real Property Tax Law, by filing a notice (prescribed by statute) and payment of a one dollar filing fee to the town clerk, a non-resident owner of real property in a town {*} is entitled to a statement of taxes due, to be sent by registered mail within about ten days “after the delivery of the warrants for the collection of taxes.” Unlike the tax bill required under section 922, if this statement of taxes is not provided “no fee, penalty or interest shall be charged for the collection of any taxes with respect to which the statement was not sent, provided the tax is paid before the collecting officer makes his return of unpaid taxes” (§982(3)). Collecting officers generally return unpaid taxes to the county treasurer by April first (§§936(1), 904(1)).

May 12, 1982

NOTE: Revised October 1, 1983, to incorporate reference to RPTL, §924-a, added by L.1983, c.541, providing for an annual determination of a rate of interest on unpaid real property taxes.


{*}  Non-resident owners of real property in cities have the same right afforded them by Real Property Tax Law, §984.

Updated: