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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 101

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxable status;
Separate assessment (privately owned improvements on state owned land) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(12)(g), 404, 564:

Dwellings or mobile homes, not owned by the State, but placed on land owned by the State or by a public authority, are taxable in the name of the owner of the improvements.

Our opinion has been requested on the taxable status of dwellings and mobile homes erected or placed by the owner on land leased from New York State or the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority in a certain town.

          All real property within New York State is subject to real property taxation unless exempt therefrom by law (Real Property Tax Law, § 300).

Section 404 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that real property owned by the State of New York is exempt from taxation and section 710 of the Public Authorities Law provides that property of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is free from taxation. The clear meaning of these sections is that only those dwellings and mobile homes which are owned by the State or the Authority are entitled to exemption from taxation.

It has long been established that any buildings, structures or docks erected by a lessee or licensee on tax exempt lands are taxable and should be assessed in the name of the lessee or licensee provided they are owned by the lessee or licensee. Improvements erected on land belonging to another are deemed to be owned by the erector if either the title is expressly reserved to the erector under the terms of the lease or permit, or the erector has the right to remove the improvements at the expiration of the lease or permit (Real Property Tax Law, § 564; People ex rel. Hudson River Day Line v. Franck, 257 N.Y. 69, 177 N.E. 312; Fort Hamilton Manor v. Boyland, 4 N.Y.2d 192, 149 N.E.2d 856, 173 N.Y.S.2d 560).

The above stated common law principle was incorporated in the section of the law which makes mobile homes taxable. Subdivision 12(g) of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law expressly provides that “if either the trailer or mobile home or the land on which it is located is entitled to any exemption . . ., such trailer or mobile home shall be separately assessed in the name of the owner . . .”

November 15, 1973