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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 39

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessment roll (village use of town roll) (filing for aged exemption) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 467, 1402:

Normally, separate applications for exempt status under Real Property Tax Law, section 467 should be made to both the town and village assessors. However, an agreement between a village and a town under which the village adopts the town assessment roll may be extended to allow the town assessor to approve exemption applications for village purposes subject to final audit by village assessing authorities.

We have received an inquiry regarding the filing requirement for the aged exemption (Real Property Tax Law, § 467). A certain village adopts the town assessment roll; both the village and the town have granted the aged exemption; and the question is whether such exemption may be allowed with respect to property appearing on the village assessment roll based upon applications filed solely with the town assessor.

Section 1402 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that a village board of trustees may, by resolution, authorize the village assessors to use the assessment roll of the county or town of the current year as the basis for village assessments so far as practicable. Where such resolution exists the village assessor is not bound by the valuations contained on the town assessment roll (Op.State Compt. 69-517; 24 Op.State Compt. 802), and the village is required to conduct grievance day in accordance with the provisions of section 1408 of the Real Property Tax Law (11 Ops.State Compt. 615 and 646).

In towns, the condition and ownership of real property, including exempt status, must be determined as of the taxable status date of May 1 annually (Real Property Tax Law, § 302), and in this village, taxable status date is January 1 annually (§ 1400). Subdivision 4 of section 467 provides that application for the exemption shall be filed in the office of the assessor of the appropriate assessing authority on or before the appropriate taxable status date. It should also be noted that under section 467, towns and villages (as well as counties, cities, and school districts) are independently afforded the option of adopting the exemption to apply solely to taxes to be levied by the granting municipality, and the further independent option of setting an income ceiling within the limits prescribed by the statute which may vary between municipalities. The income reporting period is the income tax year immediately preceding the date of making application.

Under section 1402 the use of the town assessment roll is authorized as the basis for the village assessment roll so far as practicable. This is necessary because, as indicated above, villages have their own taxable status date, which in this case occurs some eight months after the town taxable status date, and during such period the condition, ownership and exempt status of real property may change. Additionally, the aged exemption may be allowed in one or both municipalities, and if allowed in both localities the income ceilings may vary, and the income reporting period may also vary. Thus, where a village adopts a town roll, the village assessor is required to make independent determinations and adjustments to reflect the condition and ownership of village real property as of the appropriate taxable status date, and village taxpayers must be afforded a separate opportunity to present grievances based on the village assessment roll. In other words, where the town roll is used as the basis for the village assessment roll, the village assessor must make his independent determination with respect to assessments as if he were preparing his own assessment roll without regard to the town assessment roll. This means that the village assessor controls the matter of the exemption of property for village purposes. Thus, normally separate application for exempt status should be made to the town and village assessing authorities (see, 1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 44).

Where the procedure set forth in section 1402 discussed above is utilized, the village would obtain a copy of the town (or county) roll in such manner and at such cost as may be agreed upon between the town and the village. In our opinion, such agreement could be extended to allow the town assessor to approve exemption applications for village purposes through village taxable status date. With regard to the aged exemption, this would appear to be a particularly expedient method since, as is indicated, both the town and village have authorized the granting of the exemption, have set the same income maximum, and on the basis of taxable status dates in both localities, applicants who first file for the exemption with the town will be required to use the same income reporting period for village purposes. Under this method it would, of course, be appropriate for the village to require that copies of applications filed with the town assessor be forwarded to the village assessor’s office, or in the alternative, to provide that such applications be readily accessible to village assessing authorities for inspection and final audit for village purposes.

November 22, 1974