American Rock Salt Co. v. Comm'r, Taxation and Finance


New York Law Journal


Justice John Lahtinen

American Rock Salt (ARS) operates a salt mine within Livingston County under an arrangement with the Livingston County Industrial Development Agency (LCIDA). Under a sales tax exemption letter from the LCIDA, it leased 600 railcars to transport salt from its mine to locations throughout the United States. The Tax Appeals Tribunal upheld the state's tax agency determination that ARS should pay $451,000 in sales and use taxes on its railcars. The tribunal held ARS not entitled to exemption—as LCIDA's agent—because the railcars were not shown integral to the project. Interpreting General Municipal Law §854(4), it also found the rail cars used beyond the LCIDA's jurisdiction absent prior consent from all municipalities outside Livingston County that they passed through. Third Department found the railcars—absent which ARS's mined salt could not be moved to markets—an integral part of the project. Further, given that ARS's salt mine was located in a single municipality, the concerns underlying the consent requirement were not implicated. The rail cars—a necessary component of the project—did not intrude on, nor adversely affected the interests of municipalities outside Livingston County through which they happen to roll.

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