On April 20, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.20 which was partially modified under Executive Order 202.21 invoking new powers from a law passed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to temporarily suspend or modify laws necessary to assist or aid in coping with a declared State disaster emergency. On March 3, 2020, the Governor signed into law legislation that expanded his authority to temporarily suspend, modify, or issue directives in response to a declared State disaster emergency. That legislation also accompanied a $40 million appropriation to the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Article 5 of the Real Property Tax Law and other analogous provisions were modified and suspended to allow, at local option, for up to a 30 day delay of the filing of final assessment rolls that were required to be filed on or before June 1, 2020. The provisions were further modified and suspended to allow for assessment units to set a hearing assessment complaint date at least 21 days after the filing of a tentative roll, to allow for publishing of the roll online, a suspension of in-person inspections, and to allow for local Boards of Assessment Review to hear complaints by conference call or similar means.
Section 1212 of the Real Property Tax Law was modified and suspended to allow the commissioner of taxation and finance to certify final state equalization rates, class ratios, and class equalization rates no later than 10 days prior to the last day set by law for municipal corporations.
Section 1512(1) of the Real Property Tax Law and sections of the Laws of Westchester County were suspended to allow the County Executive to negotiate with town supervisors and mayors to accept a lesser percentage of taxes, levies, and special assessments due on May 25 up to a maximum percentage paid of 60%. The sections were further modified to allow for the waiver of certain late payment or interest penalties dependent upon hardship due to COVID-19.
The Laws of Westchester County were further suspended to allow a town supervisor to waive late payment or interest penalties for county or county district taxes and for town and town district taxes dependent upon hardship due to COVID-19.
The Nassau County Administrative Code was modified and suspended to allow the Nassau County Executive to extend the deadline to pay the final half of school taxes upon real estate in the county.
Under the newly enacted law, the Governor has the power to suspend, modify, or issue directives during a declared emergency for 30 days which may be extended for an unlimited number of 30 day periods with consent of the legislature after each subsequent period. Unless the Governor elects to extend the suspension or directives, they will expire on May 20, 2020.
Adriel Colon-Casiano is NYSBA’s assistant director of government relations.