How to Confirm, Stop Billing and Obtain a Refund of the Troy City School District Utility Tax
State law permits certain city school districts to impose a utility tax on their residents. The Lansingburgh School District has never imposed such a tax. The Troy City School District has, however, imposed a 2% utility tax on its residents and, through record keeping errors, that tax has improperly been collected from some residents of Lansingburgh. Unfortunately, we are powerless to correct the improper tax as we have not levied it, but we have actively tried to put an end to the mistakes causing this illegal taxation by contacting State and local authorities. Regrettably, our repeated efforts to have this matter fully rectified by the Troy City School District and the New York State Department of Tax and Finance have not been successful.
For several years, we have been fighting to prevent the imposition of the Troy City School District’s Utility Tax on the residents of the Lansingburgh Central School District. Despite our efforts, some Lansingburgh residents may still find that they are being billed a utility tax on their telephone bills, mobile/cellular telephone bills, and on their National Grid bills for electricity and natural gas. Please be advised that if you live within the Lansingburgh Central School District any such tax on your bills is being erroneously imposed and collected by the Troy City School District.
We are providing you with this update to help you prevent yourself from being improperly taxed. We are also suggesting steps that you can take (1) to determine if you are being improperly taxed, (2) to stop any utility tax from being imposed on you, and (3) to obtain a refund of any utility tax payments which you may have paid. That information is set forth in the following “Q & A.”
Q. How do I know if I am being improperly charged a utility tax by the Troy City School District?
You should check your utility bills (telephone, cellular telephone, electric, and natural gas) to determine if a tax is being improperly imposed on you. On most bills, the tax will be fairly easy to identify:
1. Telephone Bills. Some, but not all, telephone service companies itemize various sales taxes which are added to your bill. If you see a line item for “school tax” or “utility tax” you are being taxed by the Troy City School District. You should contact the telephone service provide and ask them to verify your address using the Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup web site as described below. (Depending on the format of your telephone bill, you may not be able to conclusively determine if you are being improperly taxed – you can call your telephone service to inquire whether such a tax is part of your bill.)
2. Natural Gas / Electricity Bills. Other than the City School District Utility Tax, no other sales taxes are collected on residential gas or electric service. Therefore, if you see any sales tax charge at all on your National Grid bill, you are being taxed by the Troy City School District. You should contact National Grid and ask them to verify your address using the Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup web site as described above.
Q. Is there any public record available to me to prove that my residence is located in the Lansingburgh school district?
In response to complaints from the Lansingburgh Central School District Board of Education and other entities, the New York State Department of Tax and Finance has established an electronic service known as “The Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup.” Checking your address on this lookup service will tell you whether you are erroneously listed as a resident of the Troy City School District, and are being charged a 2% utility tax on that basis. To use the lookup service, follow the following steps:
1. Go to the Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup web site, available at: http://www8.nystax.gov/UTLR/utlrHome.
2. Enter your street address and zip code. Your listed sales tax jurisdiction and utility tax rate will appear.
(a) If your property is identified as being within the Lansingburgh sales tax jurisdiction, and no utility tax rate appears, STOP. The State’s database is accurate and you should not be being improperly taxed by Troy. If you suspect that you are being taxed (see above), you can use this information to demonstrate to a utility company that you should not be paying the Troy City School Utility Tax.
(b) If your property is identified as being within the Troy sales tax jurisdiction, and a 2% utility tax rate appears, you are likely being improperly taxed. You should contact our District Business Office at 233-6850 to confirm your address is in the District. You should also notify the NYS Department of Tax and Finance that your address is listed as being in the Troy school district by the system, by emailing your address and ZIP code to: AddressLookup@tax.state.ny.us and requesting a correction. One the records are correct, you can refer utility providers to this web site as proof that you should not be taxed.
Q. I do not have access to the Internet. Is there any other way that I can access the Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate information?
You can contact the N.Y.S. Division of Taxation and Finance’s Sales Tax Unit at: (518) 485-2889. Your utility company also has access to the Lookup system.
Q. How can I stop the Troy City School District utility tax from being charged to my telephone and gas/electric bills?
Contact the utility companies directly and ask them to verify your address using the Sales Tax on Utilities Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup web site (described above). The system is designed to assist taxpayers and utility companies to correct such errors. You can also provide proof of your Lansingburgh residence, such as a copy of your school property tax bill for the address in question, to the utility company. If the company refuses to correct the bill notwithstanding proof that your property subject to the tax, file a complaint against the company with the N.Y.S. Public Service Commission at: http://www.dps.state.ny.us/New_complaintdept.html.
Q. If I have paid the utility tax, is there any way to obtain a refund of the utility taxes I have paid to the Troy City School District?
Yes. You can apply directly to the New York State Tax and Finance Department for a refund by filing Form AU-11, Application for Credit or Refund of Sales or Use Tax. This form is available:
1. Online at: http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/2007/fillin/st/au11_207_fill_in.pdf;
2. For pick-up at the Lansingburgh Central School District Business Office, 576 Fifth Avenue; or
3. By telephone request to (800) 457-4137.
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For more information contact:
Lansingburgh Central School District