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Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 74

Opinions of Counsel index

School tax relief [STAR] exemption; Senior citizens exemption (generally) (filing date); Taxable status date (exemptions generally) (exemption - senior citizens) (filing date) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 302, 425, 467:

An application for the school tax relief [STAR] exemption or the senior citizens exemption must generally be filed no later than taxable status date of a given year and may be filed as soon as the day after taxable status date of the preceding year.

Our opinion has been requested as to the earliest date on which an application may be filed for the senior citizens exemption (Real Property Tax Law, § 467) and the school tax relief [STAR] exemption (RPTL, § 425). {1}

Section 425(6)(a) of the RPTL provides that STAR applicants “must jointly file an application for exemption with the assessor on or before the appropriate taxable status date.” {2}  Similarly, section 467(5) generally provides for filing by taxable status date, although later filings are permitted at local option in the case of the illness or bereavement of the applicant (RPTL, § 467(5-a)) or for renewals (RPTL, § 467(8)). {3}

In contrast to statutes which have a prescribed filing period (e.g., Tax Law, § 651(a)), there is nothing in the STAR or senior citizens exemption to suggest that prospective applicants may not file their applications before a certain date. We do believe that it is implicit that the filing must occur less than one year before the applicable taxable status date, since the assessment process begins anew each year (see, Hilton v. Fahrenkopf, 279 N.Y. 49, 17 N.E.2d 765 (1938)). So, for example, a STAR or senior citizens exemption application for the assessment roll to be based on the taxable status date of March 1, 1999 may be filed as early as, but no earlier than, March 2, 1998. We know of no prohibition against such “early” filing, nor are we aware of any authority for the assessor to refuse to accept the application. Therefore, in our opinion, an assessor should accept such applications that are submitted to him or her less than one year before a particular taxable status date. Of course, exemption eligibility is determined according to facts as they exist on taxable status date, so the applications need not be processed until taxable status date arrives.

October 1, 1997
Revised January 1998

{1}  Recipients of the senior citizens exemption are also deemed eligible for the enhanced STAR benefit (RPTL, § 425(6)(c)).

{2}  Special provisions have been enacted permitting STAR applications for purposes of the 1998-99 school tax to be filed later than taxable status date in assessing units with taxable status dates earlier than March 1, 1998 (L.1998, c.6).

{3}  There are also special provisions for later filings in Nassau County and New York City (RPTL, § 467(5-b), (5-c), respectively). Additionally, municipalities may opt to allow senior citizens who have received the exemption on five consecutive assessment rolls to file affidavits of continued eligibility in lieu of renewal applications (RPTL, § 467(6)(b), (c)).