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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 3

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessments, generally (notice of increase) (portion of property sold) - Real Property Tax Law, § 510:

Where a property owner sells a portion of his real property, and the assessment on his retained portion equals the assessment appearing on the prior year’s roll for the entire parcel, such owner should receive a notice of increased assessment pursuant to section 510 of the Real Property Tax Law.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the requirement of mailing notices of increased assessments pursuant to section 510 of the Real Property Tax Law. The question is whether such notice should be directed to a property owner who sells a portion of his real property where the assessment on the portion retained remains unchanged from the assessment established for the entire parcel as listed on the previous assessment roll.

Section 510 as amended by Chapter 284 of the Laws of 1974 provides, in pertinent part, that “. . . the assessors in towns, cities and counties having power to assess property for tax purposes shall not later than ten days prior to the date for hearing complaints in relation to assessments mail to each owner of real property in their town, city or county a notice of any increase in the assessment thereof for that year. Such notice shall specify each parcel of real property, the assessed valuation thereof for that year and the previous year and the net increase in the assessment.”

This section clearly intends that a notice of increased assessment be sent to an owner whenever the assessment of property listed in his name on the assessment roll has in fact been raised from the assessment appearing on the preceding year’s roll. It appears that in this situation, the assessment of the parcel on the current roll is actually an increased assessment when compared with the assessment of the same property for the preceding year. This is so, because if the current assessment was apportioned so as to exclude the assessment of the portion of the parcel sold, the assessment of the portion retained would appear to be less than the value of the whole.

Therefore, under such circumstances, a notice of increased assessment should be sent to the owner of the retained portion of the real property. However, it should be noted that section 510 further provides that “[F]ailure to mail any such notice or failure of the owner to receive the same shall not prevent the levy, collection and enforcement of the payment of the taxes on such real property.” Noting this language, a Supreme Court opinion in Sullivan County states that the provisions of section 510 are directory, Feig v. Board of Assessors of Town of Fallsburg, 69 Misc.2d 322, 329 N.Y.S.2d 905. This means that a mere allegation by a property owner that he did not receive such notice would not invalidate his assessment.

October 16, 1974