Daily Development for
Friday, August 8, 1997
by: Patrick A. Randolph, Jr.
Professor of Law
UMKC School of Law
PROPERTY TAX; TELECOMMUNICATIONS EASEMENTS: Where statute characterizes right of telecommunications companies to install their equipment over public land as a "license," such characterization will control the characterization of the interests for taxation purposes as well.
New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. v. City of Franklin, 685 A.2d 913 (N.H. 1996).
The court rejected the city's attempt to classify the companies' interest over public ways to place poles and wires as "easement" interests, since the applicable state statute specifically classified the interest as a "license." The court acknowledged that an easement is a nonpossessory interest in realty while a license is a transient or impermanent interest which does not constitute an interest in the land, but the court felt bound by the statutory characterization of the interest. The court expressed no opinion, however, on the taxability or value of the easements that the telecommunications companies held over private property.
TAX; TELECOMMUNICATIONS EASEMENTS; FIXTURES: City could not impose real estate taxes on telecommunications companies' communication equipment including poles, wires, and central office equipment, since the equipment did not constitute "fixtures."
New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. v. City of Franklin, 685 A.2d 913 (N.H. 1996). Even though telecommunications equipment was placed in the ground or bolted to buildings, had long life expectancy, and was highly durable, court would not characterize it as "fixtures" for purposes of city realty tax, since the equipment was readily removable and could be transported without affecting the utility of the underlying land or the buildings, and the companies intended to maintain equipment as personality.
Items in the Daily Development section generally are extracted from the Quarterly Report on Developments in Real Estate Law, published by the ABA Section on Real Property, Probate & Trust Law. Subscriptions to the Quarterly Report are available to Section members only. The cost is nominal. For the last six years, these Reports have been collated, updated, indexed and bound into an Annual Survey of Developments in Real Estate Law, volumes 1-6, published by the ABA Press. The Annual Survey volumes are available for sale to the public. For the Report or the Survey, contact Stacy Walter at the ABA. (312) 988 5260 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Items reported here and in the ABA publications are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon in the course of representation or in the forming of decisions in legal matters. Accuracy of data and opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the DIRT editor and are in no sense the publication of the ABA.