Opinion 88-47


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


REAL PROPERTY TAXES AND ASSESSMENTS -- Enforcement (applicability of general statutes of limitations to lien enforcement)

REAL PROPERTY TAX LAW, §§902, 1422: The enforcement of liens for unpaid county and village taxes is not barred by any of the statutes of limitations prescribed by the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Previous opinions to the contrary are superseded e.g., 10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 131 and 10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 162.

You ask whether a six-year statute of limitations would bar the enforcement of outstanding village tax liens for 1966 through 1978 that were levied before village tax enforcement was undertaken by the county. You have raised the question because of the conclusion reached in 10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 162.

10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 162 concerned tax enforcement by action maintained as upon contract (former Village Law, §126) and by foreclosure of the tax lien (former Village Law, §126-d). The opinion concluded that enforcement by either procedure would be subject to the six-year statute of limitations established by section 48 of the former Civil Practice Act for actions on a liability created by statute, and that, consequently, the power of the village to collect an outstanding fourteen-year old tax would be barred by the statute of limitations. Article 2 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) currently contains statute of limitation provisions analogous to those previously in the Civil Practice Act.

Subsequent to the issuance of that opinion, the issue of whether the enforcement of tax liens was barred by the statute of limitations was considered by the Court of Appeals in relation to provisions of the New York City Charter and Administrative Code (L.K. Land Corp. v Gordon, 1 NY2d 465, 154 NYS2d 32, cert den sub nom Greenfield v L.K. Land, Corp., 352 US 989, 77 S Ct 387, 1 L ed 2d 368). In rejecting the contention that the enforcement of City tax liens was barred by the six-year statute of limitations found in sections 47-a and 48 of the Civil Practice Act, the Court concluded that the liens continued in effect "until paid" as provided for by both the City Charter and Administrative Code. In connection therewith, the Court stated:

"It is clear that a specific direction in the City's tax laws as to the duration of a tax lien must govern and take precedence over any more general statute of limitations to be found in the Civil Practice Act."

The procedures governing the enforcement of delinquent village taxes previously set forth in the former Village Law are now contained within Article 14 of the Real Property Tax Law. Similar to the provisions of the New York City Charter and Administrative Code discussed in L.K. Land Corp., supra, section 1422 of the Real Property Tax Law states that the annual village tax shall be a lien on real property "until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged." Inasmuch as the village tax liens in question, for 1966 through 1978, were subject to the provisions of section 1422, we conclude, based on L.K. Land Corp., supra, that the liens have continued in effect and that the provisions of section 1422 take precedence over any more general statute of limitations found currently in the CPLR. Therefore, it is our opinion that enforcement of the liens is not barred by the statute of limitations contained in the CPLR. We note that this conclusion as to the continued effect of village tax liens by virtue of the provisions of section 1442 would also apply to county tax liens since section 902 of the Real Property Tax Law similarly provides that county taxes shall remain a lien "until paid."

10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 162 and all similar opinions (see, e.g. 10 Opns St Comp, 1954, p 131) are hereby superseded.

October 25, 1988
Mr. Jim Yuhas, Treasurer
Village of Sackets Harbor