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Volume 12 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 31

Opinions of Counsel index

Exemption - Temporary Greenhouses (commencement of exemption) (succeeding farm structures and buildings exemption) - Real Property Tax Law, § 483-c:

The temporary greenhouses exemption may be substituted for the farm structures and buildings exemption if the affected structure or building has a polyethylene or polypropylene cover and is part of a viable agricultural or horticultural operation. An application requesting the temporary greenhouses exemption may be filed with the assessor more than one year after such a structure is completed.

We have received an inquiry concerning the temporary greenhouses exemption. The assessor states that a farmer “has a 60′ x180′ 3 row free stall dairy barn constructed with bunkers and framework covered with polyethylene or like material” that he uses to house or stable milk cows and young stock. The aforementioned structure has received the RPTL, § 483 exemption since 2003. The assessor asks whether the farmer may substitute the RPTL, § 483-c exemption.

A “temporary greenhouse” is defined as follows by RPTL, § 483-c(1)

For the purposes of this section, “temporary greenhouse” means specialized agricultural equipment having a framework covered with demountable polyethylene or polypropylene materials or materials of a polyethylene or polypropylene nature which is specifically designed, constructed and used for agricultural production. A temporary greenhouse may include, but is not limited to, the use of heating devices, water and electrical utilities, and embedded supporting poles. (emphasis added)

The Sponsor’s Memo for L.1998, c. 535, which added § 483-c to the RPTL, refers to the fact that a definition of a “temporary greenhouse” is set forth in the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Act (Executive Law, Article 18, § 370 et seq.). {1}  The definition of a “temporary greenhouse” provided in RPTL, § 483-c, differs from the definition set forth in the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Act (Executive Law, § 372(17)) in only one relevant respect, that is, the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Act definition is limited to structures “designed, constructed and used for the culture and propagation of horticultural commodities” (emphasis added).

We previously have stated that this difference in statutory language “was probably intended to broaden the eligible uses for the greenhouses” eligible to receive the RPTL, § 483-c exemption (10 Op.Counsel SBRPS No. 106). Therefore, in our opinion, the section 483-c exemption applies when such a structure is “part of a viable agricultural or horticultural operation” (emphasis added) (Ibid.).

It appears that the farmer in this case is using the polyethylene covered structure to house or stable livestock for his commercial dairy farm operation. Accordingly, if the assessor determines that to be the case, it is our opinion that the assessor may substitute the § 483-c exemption for the structure’s current § 483 exemption if  the owner of the temporary greenhouse files a § 483-c tax exemption application on or before the assessing unit’s applicable taxable status date (RPTL, §§ 302 and 483-c(3)). {2}

February 4, 2010

{1}  The Sponsor’s Memo for chapter 535 is reprinted in 1998 New York State Legislative Annual 335-336.

{2}  We note in reaching this conclusion that the temporary greenhouses exemption, unlike the farm structures and buildings exemption, does not require that the exemption application be filed no later than one year after an otherwise qualified temporary greenhouse is completed (cf., RPTL, §§ 483-c(3) and 483(4)).