The Second Department, in determining the plaintiff county was not required to exhaust its administrative remedies (and then commence an Article 78 proceeding) in order to seek judicial review of whether the defendant has been paying the correct amount of a county hotel and motel accommodation tax, explained the underpinning of local tax law in New York:
The appellants contend that the branch of their motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(2) to dismiss the first cause of action seeking enforcement of the Hotel Tax against them for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should have been granted because, inter alia, the Enabling Act required the plaintiff to exhaust certain administrative remedies before judicial intervention could be obtained, and that the plaintiff failed to do so.
In New York, local governments do not have an independent power to tax. The New York Constitution vests the taxing power in the State Legislature and authorizes the Legislature to delegate that power to local governments (see NY Const, art. XVI, § 1…). The New York Constitution places fundamental limitations on such delegations. The Legislature must describe with specificity the taxes authorized by any enabling statute (see NY Const, art XVI, § 1…). In turn, local governments can only levy and collect taxes within the expressed limitations of specific enabling legislation (see NY Const, art IX, § 2[c]…).
As a general rule, tax statutes should be strictly construed and limited to their terms, which should not be extended by implication … . Any ambiguity in a tax law should be resolved in favor of the taxpayer and against the taxing authority … .
Applying these principles here, contrary to the appellants’ contention, the plaintiff was not required to exhaust administrative remedies before commencing this action, and judicial review is not limited to a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 … . County of Nassau v Expedia Inc, 2014 NY Slip Op 06049, 2nd Dept 9-1014