Daily Development for
Friday, August 15, 1997

by: Patrick A. Randolph, Jr.
Professor of Law
UMKC School of Law

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 the equipment as personality.

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