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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 95

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxes, collection (railroads and utilities) (payment to county treasured - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 906, 930:

Utilities and railroads may pay their county-levied taxes directly to the county treasurer only during the interest-free period for collection of those taxes. Thereafter, payment must be made to individual town and city tax collectors.

Section 930 of the Real Property Tax Law [RPTL] affords railroads and certain types of utility corporations a unique opportunity to make a single payment to the county treasurer for all town (or city) and county taxes levied on their property in one county. In contrast, of course, most property owners pay their taxes to the local (i.e., town or city) tax collector (RPTL, §§904(1), 924).

However, that opportunity is limited to the so-called “interest-free period” for collection of taxes. Once that period expires, “the county treasurer . . . shall give notice to [the local tax collecting officer] of any such taxes not received by [the county treasurer]” (§930(1)). It is our opinion that the purpose of this notice is to advise the city or town tax collecting officer that taxes due from the utility or railroad company should now be collected by such city or town collecting officer. In other words, the privilege of making central payment of such taxes is limited.

If we examine the former section of the Tax Law (§73) from which section 930 is derived we find explicit language supporting this conclusion. That section also provided that certain corporations could pay their taxes directly to the county treasurer “within thirty days” (of the receipt of the notice by the county treasurer from the clerk of the board of supervisors, pursuant to what is now section 906(2) of the RPTL). The next sentence of section 73 provided as follows: “If not so paid, the county treasurer shall notify the collector of the tax district where it is due, and he shall then proceed to collect under his warrant” (emphasis added). The warrant referred to is, of course, that issued to the city or town collecting officer by the county legislative body (see, §904(1)).

When the RPTL was codified in 1958 (L.1958, c.959), provision was made to the effect that sections of the RPTL which were “substantially the same in substance and effect” as those provisions of law in force immediately prior thereto but repealed as part of the codification “are intended to be codifications and continuations of such latter provisions of law and not new enactments” (§2008(1); formerly, §1608(1), as renumbered by L.1973, c.39). Accordingly, it seems fair to say that as a continuation of its predecessor section 73 of the Tax Law, section 930 of the RPTL should be construed as set forth above.

April 2, 1986

Updated: