On April 20, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 202.22. It’s the latest in a series of Executive Orders under the Governor’s statewide disaster emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order 202.22 relaxes the requirements of Real Property Tax Law Article 5 by giving municipalities throughout the state flexibility in adopting tentative and final assessment rolls, as well as modifying the procedures for taxpayer challenges.

The order also relaxes specific penalties and interest which can accrue on taxes owed to Westchester and Nassau Counties. Click to read the text of Executive Order 202.22 online.

OVERVIEW OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 202.22

  • Relaxes the requirements of Article 5 of the Real Property Tax Law by allowing:
    1. municipalities a thirty (30) day extension to file tentative and final assessment rolls — which were previously to be filed on or before June 1, 2020;
    2. tentative assessment rolls to be published online;
    3. suspension of in-person inspection of tentative rolls; and
    4. Boards of Assessment Review to hear complaints remotely by conference call or other means so long as complainants and public can participate/view such proceedings.
  • Allows the Westchester County Executive to negotiate with towns and cities to accept a lesser percentage of taxes and special ad valorem levies to be paid on May 25, 2020.
  • Suspends Laws of Westchester County to the extent that those laws require town supervisors and city mayors to waive late payment penalties of county taxes.
  • Allows the Nassau County Executive to extend the deadline for payment of the second half of school taxes without interest or penalties until June 1, 2020;

A REVIEW OF THE SPECIFICS OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 202.22

Point 1: RPTL Article 5 — Relaxes the Requirements on the Filing of Tentative and Final Assessment Rolls, as well as Taxpayer Grievance Procedures

  • Municipalities which were scheduled to file tentative assessment rolls on or before June 1, 2020, are allowed to file up to thirty (30) days past such deadline, at their option.
  • Allows an assessing unit to set a date for the hearing of assessment complaints that is at least 21 days after the filing of the tentative assessment roll.
  • Allows publishing notice of the filing of the tentative roll solely online, so long as the date for hearing complaints is prominently displayed within any such notice.
  • Suspends in-person inspection of tentative roll
  • Allow Boards of Assessment Review to hear complaints remotely by conference call or other means so long as complainants can present their comments through such remote access and the public can view or listen to such proceedings.

Point II: RPTL Sec. 1212 – Provides Flexibility for State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to Set Equalization Rates, Class Ratios and Class Equalization Rates

  • Allows the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to certify final state equalization rates, class ratios and class equalizations rates no later than ten (10) days prior to the last date set by law for the levy of taxes of any municipal corporation to which such rates or ratios are applicable.

Point III: RPTL Sec. 1512(1) and Laws of the County of Westchester Secs. 283.291 and 283.221 – Allows the County Executive to Negotiate with Local Towns to pay a lower portion of the County Taxes owed on May 25, 2020

  • Allows the Westchester County Executive to negotiate with any town supervisor or mayor of any city to accept a lesser percentage of taxes, special ad valorem levies or special assessments which are otherwise due on May 25, 2020, with no town or city being required to pay more than 60 percent of those taxes, levies or special assessments.
  • The County Executive is empowered to determine whether or not penalties for late payment or interest are able to be waived depending on whether or not such town or city applies the County Executive’s criteria for determining hardship due to COVID-19. See more on County Executive criteria below.

Point IV: Laws of Westchester County Sec. 283.221 – Waiver of Late Payment Penalties for Westchester County and Town Taxes up to July 15, 2020

  • Suspends laws of Westchester County Sec. 283.221 to the extent that it requires the supervisor of a town to waive late payment penalties of county and county district taxes up to July 15, 2020.
  • Waives late payment penalties for town and town district taxes and assessments in the same manner provided such town applies the County Executive’s criteria for the determination of hardship due to COVID-19.

Point V: RPTL Sec. 1512(1) and Applicable Local City Tax Codes – Waiver of Late Payment Penalties for Westchester County and City Taxes

  • Allows the mayor of a city within Westchester County to waive the payment of penalties for the late payment of county and county district taxes, as well as city and city district taxes, provided that such city applies the County Executive’s criteria for the determination of hardship due to COVID-19 (Note: this provision provides no date similar to Point IV, which provides for the waiver of county and county district taxes up to July 15, 2020).

Point VI: Nassau County Administrative Code Sec. 5-18.0(2) – Allows Nassau County Executive to Extend Deadline for Half-Payment of School Taxes without Penalty or Interest

  • Allows the Nassau County Executive to extend until June 1, 2020, the deadline for payment of the final half of the school taxes, without interest or penalty.

The Westchester County Executive Criteria: While not much information on County Executive criteria is available, an April 2, 2020 update from County Executive Latimer provided that he proposed the introduction of legislation amending the Westchester County Tax Law to authorize towns in Westchester to waive penalties for the late payment of County and County District Taxes until July 15, 2020 (coinciding with the deadline to file New York State and Federal Income Taxes.)

The County Executive provided that such hardship would have to be caused by the public emergency relating to COVID-19 and that a group of town officials will help develop the criteria to qualify for the hardship, maintaining a list of taxpayers within their jurisdiction to qualify for such determination.  Id.  The County Executive’s update further explained that the hardship determination can be based upon objective criteria such as loss of employment, illness, closure of a business or other loss of income or revenue.  Id.  More information will be provided as it becomes available.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.