Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Tax Law
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Plaintiffs, several nonresident former owners and shareholders in an S corporation, filed the instant declaratory judgment action against the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, challenging a tax imposed on their pro rata share of gains from the sale of the corporation’s stock. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that N.Y. Const. art. XVI, 3 absolutely precluded taxation of gains from the sale of a nonresident’s intangible personal property - in this case, the corporation’s stock. Supreme Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and declared that the statute is constitutional. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that there is no constitutional bar to taxation of a nonresident’s New York-source income earned from a stock sale. View "Burton v. New York State Dep’t of Taxation & Fin." on Justia Law

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Petitioner owned and operated five commercial parking facilities for the purpose of furthering the goal of its sole member, a not-for-profit corporation, to revitalize downtown Jamaica, Queens. New York City Tax Commission revoked Petitioner’s real property tax exemption pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law 420-a(1)(a), determining that the use of the parking facilities, even for economic development of an underdeveloped area, did not constitute a “charitable” use and that the parking facilities were “not incidental to another recognized charitable purpose but [were] the very purpose for which the property [was] being used.” Supreme Court upheld the City’s revocation of the tax exemption. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because Petitioner’s ownership and operation of the parking facilities was not incidental to a tax-exempt purpose, it was not entitled to a real property tax exemption under that statute. View "Greater Jamaica Dev. Corp. v. New York City Tax Comm’n" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, the owners of a single-family residence located in Nassau County, filed a small claims assessment review (SCAR) petition under Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) 730. The County requested disqualification of the petition for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that the property was not owner-occupied by Petitioners during the tax year in question. The SCAR hearing officer agreed and disqualified the petition. At issue on appeal was whether the property should come within the statute’s coverage where, during the relevant tax year, the property was occupied rent-free by Petitioners’ close relative. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that when a property is occupied during the relevant tax period by an owner’s relative but not by the owner, the property is not “owner-occupied” within the meaning of RPTL 730(1)(b)(i). View "Manouel v. Bd. of Assessors" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, which owns a residential co-op complex with 1,674 residential apartments, was incorporated in 1961 as a Mitchell-Lama cooperative housing corporation pursuant to the Limited-Profit Housing Companies Law. In 2007, Plaintiff terminated its participation in the Mitchell-Lama program and reconstituted itself as a corporation under the Business Corporation Law by amending its certification of incorporation. In 2010, the New York City Department of Finance issued a notice of determination to Plaintiff of a tax deficiency in the amount of $21,149,592, concluding that Plaintiff had engaged in a transaction that qualified as a conveyance of the underlying real property, and therefore, Plaintiff was required to pay a real property transfer tax (RPTT). Plaintiff commenced this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the RPTT was inapplicable. The Appellate Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that the conversion from a Mitchell-Lama cooperative housing corporation to a cooperative housing corporation under the Business Corporation Law does not constitute a conveyance that is subject to the RPTT. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that no taxable event occurred in this case. View "Trump Vill. Section 3, Inc. v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, a not-for profit theater corporation, owned real property that it used to house its staff and summer stock actors. Petitioner filed applications for real property tax exemptions under N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law 420-a. The Assessor of the City of Auburn denied the applications. Supreme Court upheld the denial, determining that Petitioner failed to establish that its summer theater was an exempt purpose and that the use of apartment buildings to house its employees was reasonably incidental to its primary purpose. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner established its entitlement to the tax exemption because the use of the property to provide staff housing was reasonably incidental to Petitioner’s primary purpose of encouraging appreciation of the arts through theater. View "Matter of Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Inc. v. Assessor of City of Auburn" on Justia Law

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Petitioner purchased an apartment building on Staten Island. Petitioner’s parents lived in the building, and Petitioner stayed in their apartment on occasion to attend to their medical needs. Petitioner leased the other two apartments in the building to tenants. For the tax years in question, Petitioner filed nonresident income tax returns in New York. The Department of Taxation and Finance later issued a notice of deficiency, determining that Petitioner owed additional New York income taxes because he maintained a “permanent place of abode” at the Staten Island property during the relevant years. The Tax Appeals Tribunal sustained the deficiency, concluding that in order to qualify as a statutory resident under the Tax Law, a taxpayer need not actually dwell in the permanent place of abode but need only maintain it. Petitioner challenged the Tribunal’s determination, contending that the standard to be applied when determining whether a person “maintains a permanent place of abode” in New York should turn on whether he maintained living arrangements for himself to reside at the dwelling. The Court of Appeals agreed with Petitioner, holding that in order for an individual to qualify as a statutory resident, there must be some basis to conclude that the dwelling was utilized as the taxpayer’s residence.View "Gaied v. N.Y. State Tax Appeals Tribunal" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Nassau County passed Local Law 18, which shifted the obligation to pay real property tax refunds from the County to its individual taxing districts. Various interested parties filed three actions seeking a declaration that Local Law 18 was null, void and unenforceable because its violated the Municipal Home Rule Law (MHRL) provisions limiting the powers of local government and the State Constitution’s home rule and taxation articles. Supreme Court effectively granted summary judgment to the County in all three actions. The Appellate Division reversed, entering a declaratory judgment that Local Law 18 violated the Constitution and the MHRL. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the County exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority in its attempt to supersede a special State tax law.View "Baldwin Union Free Sch. Dist. v. County of Nassau" on Justia Law

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The Board of Managers of the French Oaks Condominium, a residential complex located in the Town of Amherst, commenced a Real Property Tax Law article 7 proceeding against the Town challenging the Town’s tax assessment of the development as excessive. A referee concluded that the Board established that its property was overassessed and directed the Town to amend its tax roll and remit any tax overpayments to the Board. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Board did not rebut the presumption that the initial tax assessment was valid. View "Bd. of Managers of French Oaks Condo. v. Town of Amherst" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs here were a group of travel companies that enable customers to make online travel arrangements, including hotel reservations. Plaintiffs brought a declaratory judgment action challenging the constitutionality of Local Law 43, a hotel room occupancy tax applicable to online travel companies. Alternatively, Plaintiffs contended that the law did not apply to them because their service fees were not "rent" within the meaning of the state enabling legislation. Supreme Court held (1) the law was constitutional, and (2) the plain language of the state statute authorized the City's tax. The Appellate Division reversed, holding (1) the enabling legislation did not provide the City with broad taxation powers to tax Plaintiffs' fees, and (2) the City's tax was unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the City had the authority to enact the tax and that the Appellate Division erred when it declared the tax unconstitutional. View "Expedia, Inc. v. City of New York Dep't of Fin." on Justia Law

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The Empire Zones Program Act offered state tax incentives designed to enhance business development in the state. In 2009, the program was amended to introduce two new criteria businesses must meet to retain their certificates for the program. Plaintiffs were five businesses which were certified under the program prior to 2008. In 2009, Plaintiffs were decertified from the program for failing to meet the new criteria. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for the James Square plaintiffs, concluding that the state defendants acted without legal authority when they applied the new criteria for the program retroactively. The legislature subsequently clarified its intention, stating that the 2009 amendments to the program were to be applied retroactively to January 1, 2008. Supreme Court adhered to its prior determination, declaring that the legislature's clarification as applied was unconstitutional. The Appellate Division affirmed. Regarding the additional plaintiffs, the Appellate Division modified Supreme Court's holding to the extent of granting Plaintiff's petitions seeking a declaration that the 2009 amendments could not be applied retroactively to January 1, 2008. The State appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's determinations in all five cases that the 2009 amendments should not be applied retroactively. View "James Square Assocs. LP v. Mullen" on Justia Law