Supreme Court judge upholds Schuyler room tax

A New York State Supreme Court judge has dismissed a challenge to Schuyler County’s Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax.In a written decision received by the county Wednesday (October 29), Justice Judith O’Shea ruled that the county properly assessed the taxes against a New Jersey man who owns and leases vacation homes in Schuyler County.According to County Attorney Geoffrey Rossi, the county had previously found the owner, Thomas Schneider, responsible to pay $6102 in back taxes under Schuyler County Local Law No. 2, also known as the “Hotel or Motel Room Occupancy Tax.”Court records show that Schneider owns and leases three properties as single-family residential vacation homes in Schuyler County. The properties are located in Burdett and Watkins Glen, and operated under the name “Seneca Lake Vacation Rentals.”In 2013, the county notified Schneider that he was responsible to pay back room taxes for the years 2010-2012. Schneider objected and, in October 2013, the county held a hearing on the case.After the hearing, Schneider filed a proceeding under CPLR 78, appealing the county’s ruling. In his petition, Schneider alleged that the county’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” for several reasons and claimed that the county had misinterpreted the definition of a hotel by including vacation rentals in the definition.The county, through Rossi, argued that the local law was a permissible use tax under New York State Tax Law and properly applied to vacation rentals and bungalows. The county said that the Schneider’s properties clearly met the definition of a tourist facility, subject to the tax.O’Shea agreed with the county. In a written decision dated September 19, and signed October 27, the judge ruled that the county had authority to levy the tax, noting that the local law was intended to promote Schuyler County in order to increase convention, trade show and tourist business in the county.Therefore, the court “denied and dismissed” Schneider’s petition in its entirety.The county was represented in the proceedings by Rossi. Schneider was represented by the Ithaca law firm of Schlather, Stumbar, Parks and Salk.Schneider has thirty days to appeal decision under New York State law. According to Rossi, it is not yet known if Schneider plans to do so.

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