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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 54

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption (ownership requirement) - Real Property Tax Law, § 467(3)(h):

In computing the five-year ownership requirement, where an otherwise qualified person, who owns property in a village, which extends into two towns, sells his residence in Town A and replaces it within one year by purchasing one in Town B, both residences being within the village, the period of ownership of both properties may be combined for village purposes, but not town and school district purposes.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the length of ownership requirement of section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law which authorizes municipalities to grant a partial tax exemption on real property owned by elderly persons who meet the qualifications of that statute.

For example, assume that a school district extends throughout an entire village. The village extends into Towns A and B. A taxpayer residing in a village in Town A presently qualifies for this exemption on village, town and school district taxes. The taxpayer would like to sell his residence situated in the portion of the village located in the Town of A and purchase a new home situated in the portion of the village located in the Town of B. The question is whether he will qualify for the exemption on the new residence for village, town and school district taxes.

Subdivision 3 paragraph (b) of section 467 provides that no exemption shall be granted unless title to the property has been vested in the owner, or if there is more than one owner, in all of the owners, or one of the owners if owned by a husband and wife, for at least sixty consecutive months prior to the date of making application for exemption. Chapter 954 of the Laws of 1971 amended paragraph (b) by adding “where a residence is sold and replaced with another within one year and is in the same assessment unit, the period of ownership of the former property shall be combined with the period of ownership of the property for which application is made for exemption and such periods of ownership shall be deemed to be consecutive for purposes of this section.” (emphasis supplied) Pursuant to this amendment, the time of ownership of property recently acquired may be combined with the time of ownership of property formerly owned and voluntarily sold in the same assessing unit for the purpose of computing the statutory five-year period of ownership, provided that the new property was acquired within one year from the time the former property was sold.

A town constitutes an assessing unit and the town assessment roll is used to levy town and school district taxes. A village constitutes an assessing unit; however, the village assessment roll is used solely to levy village taxes.

Accordingly, assuming the transaction discussed in the example is completed, the periods of ownership of both properties could be combined for village purposes. However, under the language of the above discussed amendment, it is our opinion that since the new property is located in another town assessing unit, the periods of ownership could not be combined for town and school district purposes. It is noted that the new residence is located within the same school district, and that, under this interpretation, there will be a loss of the exemption for school district purposes. We believe that this is an unintended result of the above discussed amendment. We are considering possible means of remedying this situation.

September 22, 1972

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1977, c.148.