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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 70

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxes (warrant) (collection) (timeliness of payment - mail) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 904, 924, 925;

Where a county board of supervisors authorizes the maximum amount of time for collection of taxes under the law (Real Property Tax Law, § 904), taxes must be collected through and including the day of April first. Accordingly, properly mailed tax payments postmarked on such date shall be deemed to have been timely made.

We have received an inquiry concerning the payment of taxes, especially as to the time periods for payment of such taxes. The facts are that a tax payment was mailed to a town tax collector with the envelope postmarked April 1, 1976. The town tax collector returned the tax bill and payment to the property owner, who in turn called the county treasurer, who indicated that payment could be accepted through April 1, 1976. Our opinion is requested as to the timeliness of the payment.

Under the Real Property Tax Law (§ 904) taxes may be accepted through the first day of April. Section 904 provides, in part, as follows:

§ 904. Warrant; tax roll
1. Not later than the thirty-first day of December in each year, the board of supervisors shall annex to the assessment roll of each city and town a warrant, bearing the seal of the board and signed by the chairman and clerk thereof, authorizing and directing the collecting officer of the city or town to collect, not later than the following April first, from the several persons and corporations named on such roll, the amounts listed opposite their respective names, together with any interest or penalties thereon prescribed by law. . . . (emphasis supplied)

This section authorizes the board of supervisors to annex a warrant authorizing collection of taxes to a time not later than, the following April first (which clearly includes the first day of April). This can be taken to mean that the board may authorize a period of collection that will extend to a date before April first. However, if the board does authorize the maximum amount of time for collection of taxes under the law, then taxes must be collected through the first day of April.

Section 924 of the Real Property Tax Law provides in part:

§ 924. Collection of taxes; interest
1. The collecting officer shall receive taxes at the times and places set forth in the notice of receipt of the tax roll and warrant and at any other time or place during usual business hours during the period of collection.

Section 936 of the Real Property Tax Law provides, in part, that:

§ 936. Return of unpaid delinquent taxes
1. Upon the expiration of his warrant, each collecting officer shall make and deliver to the county treasurer an account, subscribed and affirmed by him as true under the penalties of perjury, of all taxes listed on the tax roll which remain unpaid . . . (emphasis supplied).

This language means that unpaid taxes shall not be returned to the county treasurer until the expiration of the warrant which may be as late as the close of business on April first. In addition, section 925 of the Real Property Tax Law relating to the payment of taxes by mail provides, inter alia, that payment of taxes shall “be deemed to have been made to such officer on the date of the United States postmark on such wrapper.” This means simply that real property tax payments postmarked April 1, 1976 would be deemed to have been paid on April first. Therefore, they were paid before expiration of the warrant and should have been accepted by the town collector.

April 29, 1976