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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 38

Opinions of Counsel index

Special franchise property (assessment by state board) - Real Property Tax Law, § 600:

Even though a cable T.V. company has not obtained a franchise from the locality in which it is located to operate such a system, if, in fact, such a system is being operated, it is subject to a special franchise assessment as special franchise property.

The fact that the owner of a cable T.V. company has not been able to obtain a franchise to operate the system from the locality in which the property is located, and that the property might be illegally situated in public places, does not affect the characterization of the property as special franchise property under the provisions of the Real Property Tax Law.

Under case law and the long practice of state agencies which administer the assessment of special franchise property, the existence of a special franchise under this fact situation is implied and the owner of the property is estopped from denying that it has a franchise to maintain its property in public places. (People ex rel. United Natural Gas Co. v. Priest, 152 App. Div. 249, 136 N.Y.S. 575; Op. of Dept. of Taxation and Finance, 43 State Dept. Rep. 282 (1933)).

Therefore, the property of the cable T.V. company in question located in public places is, in our opinion, subject to assessment by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment as special franchise property.

March 13, 1972