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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 22

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxes (collection) - Real Property Tax Law, § 924:

Real property bisected by a municipal boundary must be separately assessed; the resulting separate tax bills are separate and distinct liabilities.

We have received an inquiry concerning the collection of taxes on real property which is located in more than one municipality. In one situation, the land is bisected by a school district boundary line; in another situation, the land is bisected by a village boundary line. Separate tax bills are produced for each portion by the ARLM system, and we are asked whether this is correct. For the reasons which follow, it is our opinion that each portion of the “split” parcel is subject to a separate levy, and separate tax bills are required. The separate payment of these bills should not be considered a partial payment.

Subdivision 11 of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that “[a] parcel shall not be bisected by a municipal corporation boundary line except that in a special assessing unit a parcel may be bisected by a school district or village boundary line.” Since the town is not located in a special assessing unit (i.e., Nassau County or the City of New York), real property which is located in more than one school district or located both within and outside a village must be assessed as discrete parcels (see also, 9 NYCRR 189.1[1]).

As a result of these separate assessments, the levy and extension of town/ county taxes and school taxes pursuant to RPTL, §§ 990 and 1306, respectively, are similarly distinct. Accordingly, the separate tax bills may not be combined for collection purposes. The payment of only one of these bills does not constitute a partial payment and, therefore, does not violate the general and longstanding law of New York State that in the absence of a statute to the contrary, a receiver of taxes may not accept less than the full amount of the tax bill (In re Wadham’s Estate, 249 App. Div. 271, 292 N.Y.S. 102 (4th Dept. 1936)).

In the event either of the tax bills remains unpaid, enforcement procedures could be properly brought against that portion of the real property with respect to which taxes are delinquent. Any tax sale notice should only include the description of the parcel as set forth on the assessment roll. (Since the parcels are separately assessed, each should have its own unique section, block and lot number.)

October 20, 1987