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11/12/2019 Assessment Community Weekly

Article 7 proceedings challenging telecommunications property values

Legal papers that challenge property values established at the local level should be immediately forwarded to the municipal attorney – not to the Tax Department. Keep in mind that telecommunications assessment ceilings, unlike special franchise assessments, merely cap the taxable assessed value. Local assessors retain their ability to set the total assessed value as they see fit. The value set by the assessor may be higher or lower than the ceiling value (of course, to the extent the value is higher than the ceiling it is exempt).

Under RPTL 499-pppp, companies can challenge the telecommunications assessment ceiling established by ORPTS, or the value actually established at the local level, or both the ceiling value and the value established at the local level. The Tax Department will always be a party to litigation when the ceiling value is challenged and will be named as a defendant/respondent in the caption of any legal pleadings (as in the case in CenturyLink Communications, LLC et. al. v. New York State Dept. of Tax. and Finance). However, when the value established at the local level is challenged the Tax Department will not be a defendant/respondent and will not be involved in the litigation (as is the case in proceedings commenced by companies such as SLIC Network Solutions, Inc., and Zayo Group, LLC).

In either type of proceeding, there is no need to send the Tax Department legal papers served on the local government, nor can the Tax Department provide you with legal advice. Questions regarding this litigation should be directed to the municipal attorney.

Denial letters

We continue to issue denial letters to property owners who have registered for the STAR credit but are not eligible. If contacted by a taxpayer about a denial letter, direct them to follow the instructions or call the telephone number on the letter. Denial reasons include:

  • Income is too high
  • Receiving a STAR exemption on the property
  • Receiving a STAR benefit for another property
  • Property is not the primary residence
  • Single-family property is a year-round rental

Tip for new assessors: Public relations guidance

Good public relations are key to a successful assessor’s office. If your community understands your efforts it is much more likely to support your efforts.

To assist your public relations efforts, we worked with a group of local officials to publish these guides:

Visit Public Education Inventories - Tools, Forums and Personnel for more information.

Training reminders

The ORPTS training schedule is updated through Spring 2020. If you have questions, email or call 518-474-1764.

In addition, re-appointed and re-elected assessors and county directors must take approved ethics training within one year (before or after) of re-appointment or re-election to office. New assessors and new county directors must take an approved ethics course within a year of taking office.

For approved courses and more information see Ethics component.

Reminder: Partial payment of taxes option

Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2017 authorized local governments to offer programs for the partial payment of taxes. Prior to this legislation, only counties were generally authorized to adopt such programs. This legislation allows the governing body of any municipal corporation that employs a collecting officer to pass a resolution authorizing that officer to accept partial payments under the conditions specified in the resolution. Municipalities adopting such a resolution may provide for a service charge of up to ten dollars to be added to each partial payment. School districts are also empowered to establish partial payment programs, subject to certain conditions where school taxes are payable to a collecting officer of a city or town.

Judicial Cases

New Judicial cases:

  • Matter of Church Aid of the Prot. Episcopal Church in the Town of Saratoga Springs, Inc. v Town of Wilton Assessor
  • Matter of Level 3 Communications, LLC v Erie County (See the July 2019 decision that the court declined to rehear)
  • Matter of Level 3 Communications, LLC v Chautauqua County (See the July 2019 decision that the court declined to rehear)