556. Refunds and credits of taxes. 1. (a) Pursuant to the provisions of this section, an appropriate tax levying body may refund to any person the amount of any tax paid by him or her, or portion thereof, as the case may be, or may provide a credit against an outstanding tax (i) where such tax was attributable to a clerical error or an unlawful entry and application for refund or credit is made within three years from the annexation of the warrant for such tax, or (ii) where such tax was attributable to an error in essential fact, other than an error in essential fact as defined in paragraph (d) of subdivision three of section five hundred fifty of this title, and such application for refund or credit is made within three years from the annexation of the warrant for such tax.
(b) For each year for which a refund or credit is granted pursuant to the provisions of this section by reason of the existence of an unlawful entry as defined by paragraph (b) of subdivision seven of section five hundred fifty of this title, the assessor of the assessing unit in which the subject real property is actually located, but has been omitted from the assessment and tax rolls of such assessing unit, or a school district or special districts located therein, shall have the authority to enter such real property on the current assessment roll in accordance with the provisions of section five hundred fifty-one of this title, notwithstanding any time limitation contained in such section.
2. (a) Whenever it appears to a person who has paid a tax that such tax, or a portion thereof, was attributable to an unlawful entry, a clerical error, or an error in essential fact, as described in subdivision one of this section, such person may file an application in duplicate, including any available proof of the error, with the appropriate county director of real property tax services for a refund of such tax, or portion thereof, as the case may be.
(b) Whenever it appears to a person who is an owner of a parcel which is subject to an outstanding tax, that such tax, or a portion thereof, was attributable to an unlawful entry, a clerical error, or an error in essential fact, as described in subdivision one of this section, such person may file an application in duplicate, including any available proof of the error, with the appropriate county director of real property tax services for a credit of such tax, or portion thereof.
(c) For an error in essential fact, the application for correction shall include a copy of the property record card, field book, or other final work product upon which the incorrect assessment was based and a copy of any existing municipal record which substantiates the occurrence of the error. For an unlawful entry as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision seven of section five hundred fifty of this title, the application for correction shall include a statement by the assessor or by a majority of a board of assessors substantiating that the assessor or assessors have obtained proof that the parcel which is the subject of the application should have been granted tax exempt status; the failure to include such statement shall render the application null and void and shall bar the tax levying body from directing a refund or credit of taxes pursuant to this section.
3. The application for a refund or credit pursuant to this section shall be on a form and shall contain such information as prescribed by the commissioner and shall be available in the offices of all collecting officers and in the office of the county director.
4. (a) The county director, within ten days of the receipt of an application filed pursuant to this section, shall investigate the circumstances of the claimed unlawful entry, clerical error or error in essential fact to determine whether the error exists, and on such investigation he may require and shall receive from any officer, employee, department, board, bureau, office or other instrumentality of the appropriate municipal corporation such facilities, assistance and data as will enable him to properly consummate his studies and investigations hereunder.
(b) Upon completion of such investigation the county director shall immediately transmit a written report of such investigation and his or her recommendation for action thereon, together with both copies of the application, to the tax levying body. If the same alleged error also appears on a current assessment roll, the county director shall also file a copy of such report and recommendation with appropriate assessor and board of assessment review who shall consider the same to be the equivalent of a petition for correction filed with such board pursuant to section five hundred fifty-three of this title.
5. The tax levying body, at a regular or special meeting, upon the presentation of an application filed pursuant to this section and the written report described in subdivision four of this section, shall:
(a) examine the application and report to determine whether the claimed unlawful entry, clerical error or error in essential fact exists;
(b) reject an application where it is determined that the claimed unlawful entry, clerical error or error in essential fact does not exist by making a notation on the application and the duplicate copy thereof that the application is rejected and the reasons for the rejection;
(c) approve an application where it is determined that the claimed unlawful entry, clerical error or error in essential fact does exist by making a notation on the application and the duplicate copy thereof that the application is approved and by entering thereon the amount of the refund to be paid or outstanding tax to be credited;
(d) mail an application that has been rejected to the applicant;
(e) mail an application that has been approved to the applicant.
6. (a) The amount of any tax refunded or credited pursuant to this section shall be a charge upon each municipal corporation or special district to the extent of any such municipal corporation or special district taxes that were so refunded. Amounts so charged to cities, towns and special districts shall be included in the next ensuing tax levy.
(b) In raising the amount of a refund or credit pursuant to this section of a relevied school tax the appropriate tax levying body shall charge back against the school district which levied such tax the amount of the refund or credit which shall not exceed the amount paid by the county treasurer to such school district upon the return of such tax. The amount so charged against such school district shall be deducted by the county treasurer and withheld from any moneys which shall become payable by him to such school district by reason of taxes which shall thereafter be returned to him by such school district. No such charge shall be made by the county legislative body against a school district unless ten days' notice thereof by mail has been given to the school authorities thereof. Notice that such deduction will be made shall thereafter be given by the county treasurer in writing to such school authorities on or before the first day of May prior to the making of such deduction.
7. The powers and duties imposed by this section upon the county director of real property tax services shall be performed by such officer for taxes levied for county, city, town, special district and school district purposes except that (a) in the case of counties having the power to assess real property for tax purposes such powers and duties shall be performed by the chief assessing officer or the chairman of the county board of assessors and, (b) in the case of villages, for village tax purposes, such powers and duties shall be performed by the village assessor or the chairman of the village board of assessors; provided, however, that if the village has enacted a local law as provided in subdivision three of section fourteen hundred two of this chapter, the county director shall perform the powers and duties imposed upon such officer by this section on behalf of such village.
8. (a) A tax levying body may, by resolution, delegate to an official who is empowered to authorize payment of bills without prior audit by such body or, in the event there is no official so empowered, to an official responsible for the payment of bills upon audit of the appropriate municipal corporation so designated by it, the authority to perform the duties of such tax levying body, as provided in this section. Such resolution shall only be in effect during the calendar year in which it is adopted and shall designate that such delegation of authority is applicable only where the recommended refund or credit is twenty-five hundred dollars or less, or such other sum not to exceed twenty-five hundred dollars.
(b) Where such resolution is adopted and the recommended refund or credit does not exceed the amount specified in the designating resolution, the county director shall transmit the written report of the investigation and recommendation, together with both copies of the application, to the official designated by the tax levying body. Upon receipt of the written report, the designated official shall follow the procedure which the tax levying body would follow in making refunds, provided, however, where the designated official denies the refund or credit, in whole or in part, such official shall transmit to the tax levying body for its review and disposition pursuant to subdivision five of this section the written report of the investigation and recommendation of the county director, together with both copies of the application and the reasons that the designated official denied the refund or credit. Where the recommendation of the county director is to deny the application or the refund or credit requested is in an amount in excess of the amount authorized in the enabling resolution, the county director shall transmit the written report of the investigation and recommendation, together with both copies of the application, to the tax levying body.
(c) On or before the fifteenth day of each month, the designated official shall submit a report to the tax levying body of the refunds or credits processed by such official during the preceding month. Such report shall indicate the name of each recipient, the location of the property and the amount of the refund or credit.
(d) In no case shall the total sum of such refunds or credits approved by the designated official exceed the amount appropriated therefor by the tax levying body.
9. In the event that an appropriation for a refund authorized pursuant to this section is included in the annual budget next adopted after approval of such refund, interest shall be added to such refund computed from the date that the application is approved pursuant to subdivision five or eight of this section.
10. When a portion of an outstanding tax has been credited pursuant to this section, any interest and penalties that have been imposed thereon shall be reduced to the extent that such interest and penalties were attributable to the credited portion of the tax, and no additional interest and penalties shall be imposed if the corrected amount of the tax is paid within eight days of the date on which the notice of approval is mailed pursuant to paragraph (e) of subdivision five of this section.
Last modified: February 3, 2019