The Third Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the amendments to the Economic Development Zones Act of 2009 should not have been applied retroactively to petitioners, MSLMSH (a law firm and related parties), to remove petitioners’ certification as a qualified empire zone enterprise (QEZE) entitled to tax credits based upon the location of the business in Syracuse:
… [R]esolution of this issue hinges upon examining the three factors articulated by the Court of Appeals in Matter of Replan Dev. v Department of Hous. Preserv. & Dev. of City of N.Y. (70 NY2d 451, 456  …) — specifically, a taxpayer’s forewarning of the change in law and the reasonableness of his or her reliance on the old law, the length of the retroactive period and the public purpose of the retroactive application.
… [T]he record reflects that MSLMSH was considering various places to relocate, but ultimately executed the 15-year lease in 2001 to remain in downtown Syracuse. MSLMSH also invested approximately $800,000 in equipment and furnishings. Around that time, MSLMSH was undergoing a corporate restructuring and reorganization, which led to the formation of Mackenzie Hughes in 2002. Mackenzie Hughes assumed many assets of MSLMSH, including the lease, and became QEZE certified in 2003. The testimony from the hearing further reflects that the expenditures and investments were made in reliance on receiving QEZE credits, and Mackenzie Hughes continued to operate its business with the QEZE certification until it was decertified in 2009. Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the partner petitioners’ reliance on the old law was reasonable. Nor do we find merit in the Commissioner’s assertion that the actions taken by MSLMSH prior to Mackenzie Hughes obtaining its QEZE certification were too attenuated to constitute justifiable reliance by the partner petitioners. Inasmuch as this factor weighs in favor of petitioners … and viewing all factors holistically, we conclude that the retroactive application of the 2009 amendments in this case was improper … . Matter of Mackenzie Hughes LLP v New York State Tax Appeals Trib., 2019 NY Slip Op 09337, Third Dept 12-26-19