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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 2

Opinions of Counsel index

Forest and reforested lands exemption (ceiling provisions) (scope) - Real Property Tax Law, § 480:

Only buildings or structures directly related to the reforestation of lands are affected by the ceiling provisions of subdivision 3 of section 480.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether the “freeze” or “ceiling” on the assessed value of an eligible tract of forest and reforested lands as provided in subdivision 3 of section 480 of the Real Property Tax Law applies to the valuation of buildings or other improvements on such lands.

Paragraph (a) of subdivision 2 of section 480 defines “eligible tract” as meaning a tract of forest land of at least 15 acres which has been planted with an average of not less than 800 trees per acre, or which has been underplanted with an average of not less than 300 trees per acre, or upon which the majority of the mature timber has been removed in such a manner as to ensure a crop of merchantable timber or pulpwood or upon which, at the time of classification, there is an immature stand sufficient to produce such a crop within 30 years.

Subdivision 3 of said section provides that eligible tracts shall be separately assessed for purposes of taxation upon the basis of the value of the land, including the value of any buildings or structures thereon, but excluding the value of such planted or underplanted trees or natural reproduction. Said subdivision further provides that the assessment of an eligible tract shall be no higher than the valuation of similar lands without substantial forest growth situated in the same town and at no time shall it exceed the valuation fixed at the time the application for the classification is filed.

It has been and continues to be the opinion of this office that only buildings or structures directly related to the reforestation of lands are affected by the freeze or ceiling provisions of said subdivision 3, and that any other building or structure would not be affected and that the assessed valuation of such other building or structure could be increased.

February 6, 1973