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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 14

Opinions of Counsel index

Equalization rates (county rates) (State Board review - standing to challenge) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 202, 830:

A county lacks standing to obtain judicial review of the State Board’s determination in review of county equalization rates.

The State Board must “hear and determine reviews relating to determinations made by county equalization agencies” (Real Property Tax Law [RPTL], § 202(1)(c)). A final determination of the State Board in a review of a county equalization may be reviewed pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules [CPLR] in State Supreme Court upon application of an affected city or town (RPTL, § 830). This latter provision was formerly contained in section 760 of the RPTL.

We have been asked how a county may appeal a determination of the State Board in the review of the equalization made by the county for the levy of county taxes.

Neither section 830 nor its predecessor section 760 contains any authorization for a county to appeal a final determination of the State Board reviewing a county equalization.

In cases decided prior to the enactment of the RPTL, the courts concluded that a county is not an aggrieved party entitled to seek review of such a final determination (People ex rel. Supervisors v. Hadley, 14 Hun 183 (2d Dept. 1878); Ingmire v. Board of Supervisors of Saratoga County, 161 Misc. 554, 293 N.Y.S. 540 (Sup. Ct., Saratoga Co. 1936)). The rationale is that any adjustment of county equalization rates effects the respective cities and towns only and not the county itself, since it will levy and collect the same amount of taxes regardless of how those taxes are apportioned among the cities and towns.

Therefore, an appeal of the State Board’s determination in the matter of a county’s equalization for tax levy purposes may only be brought by an affected city or town pursuant to CPLR, Article 78.

October 12, 1983

NOTE: In a memorandum decision of May 7, 1984, the State Supreme Court, Albany County, concluded that a county may not appeal a determination of the State Board with respect to county equalization rates (see, County of Clinton v. SBEA, index no. 18908-83, Prior, J.; copy on file at the State Board’s offices).