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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 17

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption (farm property) - Real Property Tax Law, § 467:

The portion of a farm used for residential purposes by an otherwise qualified applicant for the aged exemption may be separately assessed if capable of being so assessed and the exemption may be granted on that separately assessed parcel.

We have received an inquiry concerning eligibility for the aged exemption of persons who reside on farms.

The residential and occupancy requirements of section 467 are satisfied if the property is the legal residence of the applicant or applicants, the property is used exclusively for residential purposes, and the property is occupied in whole or in part by the applicant or applicants. The intention of the Legislature in enacting this statute was to benefit aged persons with limited incomes, and apparently it was not intended that otherwise qualified persons who choose to reside on farms be discriminated against by depriving them of this exemption.

Where a person otherwise qualified for exemption owns a parcel of several acres and is engaged in a farming operation, or where the parcel consists of several acres and farming operations have been abandoned for one reason or another, then clearly, the requirement in section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law of exclusive use for residential purposes is not met.

However, if the portion of the property used for other than residential purposes is capable of being described separately on the assessment roll, the assessor may take a separate assessment, and the exemption would apply to the separately assessed portion used exclusively for residential purposes.

What constitutes a “separately assessed parcel of real property” for assessment and taxation purposes is not defined in the Real Property Tax Law (see, Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(11), 502 and 504). However, the law does require that the description of each separately assessed parcel be sufficiently accurate to identify and locate it with reasonable certainty.

Accordingly, assessors have the power to separately assess the residence and that portion of the land which is residential, and apply the aged exemption to that separately assessed parcel. However, the location and boundaries of the parcel which are separately assessed should be described with reasonable certainty, and the assessor should be sure to ascertain boundary descriptions showing metes and bounds if the portion of a farm which is used for residential purposes is broken out. We generally recommend to the assessor that he obtain a request in writing from the applicant for such separate assessment.

In any event, the portion of the parcel used for residential purposes (i.e., the home and supporting land) may be separately assessed and, in such case, the aged exemption would apply to that separately assessed parcel (assuming, of course, the applicant is otherwise qualified).

June 9, 1972