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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 77

Opinions of Counsel index

Clergymen’s exemption; Aged exemption (scope and computation) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 460, 467:

The partial exemption of real property owned by a clergyman applies to school district taxes. The clergyman’s exemption may be available to a resident who also receives the aged exemption. If both exemptions are granted, then the aged exemption should be computed after the clergyman’s exemption.

Our opinion has been requested as to (1) whether the “clergyman’s” exemption applies to school district taxes; (2) whether the “aged” exemption may also be allowed on property subject to a “clergyman’s” exemption; and (3) the method of computing the “aged” exemption where an applicant is also entitled to a “clergyman’s” exemption, assuming both exemptions may be allowed.

Section 460 of the Real Property Tax Law provides a partial exemption from taxation of real property owned by a minister, priest or rabbi (or his unremarried widow) who meets the qualifications of that section, in the amount of $1,500. Taxation is defined to mean “a charge imposed upon real property by or on behalf of a county, city, town, village or school district for municipal or school district purposes, but does not include a special ad valorem levy or special assessment” (Real Property Tax Law, section 102, subdivision 20). Accordingly, the exemption provided by section 460 (the so-called school district taxes, but does not apply to special ad valorem levies “clergyman’s” exemption) applies to county, city, town, village and for local improvements such as water districts, sewer districts, fire districts and levies for other special improvement districts. It should also be noted that the partial exemption provided by section 460 applies to any property owned by an otherwise qualified clergyman and, therefore, is not necessarily limited to property which is the legal residence of the clergyman.

Section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law, the so-called “aged” exemption statute authorizes municipalities to grant an exemption to the extent of 50 percent of the assessed valuation on real property exclusively used for residential purposes, owned and occupied by and which is the legal residence of persons sixty-five years of age or over who meet the remaining qualifications of that exemption statute.

Therefore, if a clergyman owns real property and meets the qualifications of section 460, and such property is exclusively used for residential purposes, is occupied by and is the legal residence of such clergyman and the remaining provisions of section 467 are satisfied with respect to such property, both the “clergyman’s” and “aged” exemption may be allowed on the property.

It is our opinion that the 50 percent exemption for aged persons, provided by section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law, is to be computed after all other partial exemptions have been deducted. Therefore, the limited exemption provided for clergymen should first be allowed against the real property. Thus, for example, where the total assessed valuation of a particular real property parcel is $3,000, the assessor should first deduct the $1,500 allowed for the “clergyman’s exemption, and then compute the “aged” exemption, arriving at a figure of $750 on which taxes are to be imposed.

March 23, 1972