Opinion 97 - 3


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 The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.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 -- Interest and Penalties (authority to waive)

REAL PROPERTY TAX LAW, §1182; L 1993, ch 602, §8, as amended: Section 1182 of the Real Property Tax Law does not authorize a village to waive interest and penalties on taxes which became a lien prior to January 1, 1995. Until December 31, 1999, however, a village acting pursuant to former sections 1092 and 1094 of the Real Property Tax Law may compromise or waive interest and penalties on taxes levied prior to the dates specified in those sections.

You ask whether, pursuant to section 1182 of the Real Property Tax Law, a village may waive all or a portion of the interest and penalties on certain delinquent taxes (including unpaid water and sewer charges levied with such taxes). You state that the tax liens are owned by the village and, in at least some cases, date from the 1930s. For purposes of this opinion, we assume that none of the delinquent taxes or other charges in question became a lien on or after January 1, 1995.

Chapter 602 of the Laws of 1993 made comprehensive revisions to the provisions of articles 10, 11 and 14 of the Real Property Tax Law in relation to the procedures for enforcing delinquent property taxes (see McKinney's 1993 Session Laws of New York, pp. 2699, 2910). In general, the provisions of chapter 602 took effect on January 1, 1995 (L 1993, ch 602, §8[a]), and were made applicable to taxes which became liens on or after that date (L 1993, ch 602, §8[b], as amended by L 1994, ch 532, §11). Chapter 602 also contains a series of transitional provisions relating to the enforcement of taxes which became liens prior to January 1, 1995 (L 1993, ch 602, §8[c], [d], as amended by L 1994, ch 532, §11 and L 1995, ch 579, §23).

Section 1182 of the Real Property Tax Law, as renumbered and then amended by chapter 602, provides in pertinent part that:

If the governing body of any tax district shall determine that it is for the best interests of the tax district, it shall have the power, by resolution, to authorize the enforcing officer to permit the cancellation in whole or in part of any interest, penalties or other charges imposed by law to which the tax district . . . shall be lawfully entitled . . .

Thus, under certain circumstances, section 1182 authorizes a "tax district", including a village other than a village for which a county enforces delinquent taxes pursuant to section 1442 of the Real Property Tax Law (Real Property Tax Law, §1102[6][d]), to cancel, in whole or in part, interest, penalties or other "charges" imposed by law (see Real Property Tax Law, §1102[1]). Section 1182, however, is applicable only to the enforcement of taxes which become a lien on or after January 1, 1995 (see L 1993, ch 602, §8[b], as amended). Therefore, it is our opinion that section 1182 does not authorize villages to cancel interest and penalties on taxes which became a lien prior to January 1, 1995.

As to pre-1995 liens, we note that the transitional provisions of chapter 602 generally provide that for purposes of the enforcement of pre-1995 liens, the provisions of the applicable general, special or local laws in effect on December 31, 1994 continue in effect as fully and to the same extent as if such laws had not been repealed or superseded by chapter 602 (L 1993, ch 602, §8[c], [d], as amended). In the case of tax liens held by a tax district, however, such general, special or local laws continue in effect only until December 31, 1999 (L 1993, ch 602, §8[c][i], as amended)(1).

Chapter 602 repealed, among other provisions, former sections 1092 and 1094 of the Real Property Tax Law. Former section 1092 established a procedure whereby villages, under certain circumstances, could compromise taxes, special ad valorem levies, special assessments and water rents levied prior to January 1, 1944, including interest and penalties thereon. Former section 1094 also authorized villages to waive interest and penalties on unpaid taxes, special ad valorem levies, special assessments and water rents levied prior to April 1, 1941. Therefore, it is our opinion that, until December 31, 1999, the transitional provisions of chapter 602 authorize villages which hold tax liens to compromise or waive the interest and penalties on such taxes in accordance with former sections 1092 and 1094. We are not aware of any other statute which permits villages to waive interest and penalties on taxes levied after the dates specified in former sections 1092 and 1094, but before January 1, 1995 (see, e.g., 30 Opns St Comp, 1974, p 46; 25 Opns St Comp, 1969, p 36).

Accordingly, in our opinion, section 1182 of the Real Property Tax Law does not authorize a village to waive interest and penalties on taxes which became a lien prior to January 1, 1995. Until December 31, 1999, however, a village acting pursuant to former sections 1092 and 1094 of the Real Property Tax Law may compromise or waive interest and penalties on taxes levied prior to the dates specified in those sections.

February 6, 1997
Robert W. Spencer, Esq., Village Attorney
Village of Elmsford

1. After December 31, 1999, if the enforcement of a pre-1995 lien has not been concluded, as evidenced by the issuance of a tax deed, the amount due must be relevied and enforced in accordance with the procedures then applicable to the enforcement of taxes (L 1993, ch 602, §8[c][ii], as amended).