Parent Corporation Not Entitled to Qualified Empire Zone Enterprise (QEZE) Property Tax Credits Because a Related But Separate Entity Did Not Make Payments Required by Its “Payment In Lieu of Taxes” (PILOT) Agreement
With regard to a building in the City of Rochester, the Third Department determined a parent corporation was not entitled to Qualified Empire Zone Enterprise (QEZE) tax credits because a related but separate limited partnership, Rochwil, did not make payments required by its “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) agreement.
The primary issue presented in this proceeding is whether petitioner could claim a refund for unused QEZE real property tax credits that were reported by its subsidiary based on its partnership interest in Rochwil for PILOT payments that were not made. As the taxpayer seeking a tax credit, petitioner “bears the burden of establishing that such credit is unambiguously set forth in the statute” … . To meet this burden, petitioner must show that its “interpretation of the statute is not only plausible, but also that it is the only reasonable construction” … .
We cannot conclude that petitioner met its burden here. As a QEZE, Rochwil was entitled to a credit for eligible real property taxes (see Tax Law former § 15 [a]), and it is not disputed that petitioner was entitled to seek such credit against its corporate franchise taxes during the years at issue (see Tax Law former § 210 ). As relevant to this dispute, the term “eligible real property taxes” includes both “taxes imposed on real property which is owned by the QEZE . . . provided such taxes become a lien on the real property” and “[PILOT payments] made by the QEZE to . . . a public benefit corporation” (Tax Law former § 15 [e]). Contrary to petitioner’s claim, the plain and unambiguous language of the statute provides that real property taxes imposed are distinct from PILOT payments made, and where, as here, a QEZE does not own the property but is instead subject to a PILOT agreement with the property owner, the PILOT payments must be made in order to qualify for the credit provided by Tax Law former § 15 … . Matter of Wilmorite, Inc. v Tax Appeals Trib. of the State of N.Y., 2015 NY Slip Op 06386, 3rd Dept 7-30-15