This paper is concerned with linear and nonlinear magneto-optical effects in multilayered magnetic systems when treated by the simplest phenomenological model that allows their response to be represented in terms of electric polarization. The problem is addressed by formulating a set of boundary conditions at infinitely thin interfaces, taking into account the existence of surface polarizations. Essential details are given that describe how the formalism of distributions (generalized functions) allows these conditions to be derived directly from the differential form of Maxwell's equations. Using the same formalism we show the origin of alternative boundary conditions that exist in the literature. The boundary value problem for the wave equation is formulated, with an emphasis on the analysis of second harmonic magneto-optical effects in ferromagnetically ordered multilayers. An associated problem of conventions in setting up relationships between the nonlinear surface polarization and the fundamental electric field at the interfaces separating anisotropic layers through surface susceptibility tensors is discussed. A problem of self-consistency of the model is highlighted, relating to the existence of rescaling procedures connecting the different conventions. The linear approximation with respect to magnetization is pursued, allowing rotational anisotropy of magneto-optical effects to be easily analyzed owing to the invariance of the corresponding polar and axial tensors under ordinary point groups. Required representations of the tensors are given for the groups ∞m, 4mm, mm2, and 3m. With regard to centrosymmetric multilayers, nonlinear volume polarization is also considered. A concise expression is given for its magnetic part, governed by an axial fifth-rank susceptibility tensor being invariant under the Curie group ∞∞m.