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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 122

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxes (bills) (third party notification-scope) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 922, 923; Suffolk County Tax Act, §§ 13, 23:

The program for third party notification of tax liability applies to all tax collecting jurisdictions in this State, including those located in counties which are subject to special tax acts, such as Suffolk County.

The recently enacted program for “third party notification” of real property taxes (L.1986, c.758, § 5) includes a requirement that tax collecting officers mail with each bill a notice explaining the program (see, RPTL, § 922(1-a)). Tax collecting officers subject to the provisions of the RPTL generally must mail a statement of taxes to each owner of real property (§ 922(1)). Although the Suffolk County Tax Act [SCTA] contains its own provision for the mailing of tax bills by its town tax collectors (SCTA, §§ 23, 71), the provisions of the RPTL apply to Suffolk County to the extent “not inconsistent with the provisions of [the SCTA]” (SCTA, § 32).

Even if there were some question of whether section 922(1-a) of the RPTL was “inconsistent” with the SCTA, it seems clear from language in new section 923 of the RPTL that the Legislature intended this program to apply Statewide. Subdivision two of section 923 provides that an eligible taxpayer may request a mailing to a designated third party of a duplicate tax statement or notice of unpaid tax “required by [the RPTL] or any special act, local law, charter or administrative code” (emphasis added). Thus, although Suffolk County tax bills are mailed pursuant to a special act, rather than the RPTL, it is our opinion that tax collecting officers in Suffolk County are subject to the third party notification program.

This same conclusion applies to tax collecting jurisdictions located in other counties which are subject to special tax acts, such as Nassau, Westchester and Erie Counties.

November 20, 1986