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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 100

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption (income requirement) (social security paid directly to student) - Real Property Tax Law, § 467:

Social security payments paid directly to a student beneficiary aged 18-22 do not constitute “income” to the student’s parent for purposes of the aged exemption (Real Property Tax Law, § 467).

We have received an inquiry concerning the income requirement of section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law. The question is whether social security benefits paid directly to a college student residing at home or away at school should be computed with the income of a parent applying for the exemption.

Section 467 authorizes municipalities to grant a partial exemption from taxation on the owner-occupied legal residence of certain aged persons with limited incomes. Subdivision 3 provides in part that no exemption shall be granted if the income of the owner exceeds the sum set by the granting municipality which may be a figure not less than $3,000 nor more than $6,500. This subdivision further provides that such income shall include social security and retirement benefits.

Information obtained from the Social Security Administration indicates that, under authority contained in section 205(j) of the Federal Social Security Act, student beneficiaries of the age 18 to 22 are considered and treated as are other adult beneficiaries in that direct payments to these students are authorized. The intent, we gather, is to afford such students an opportunity to manage their own benefits and affairs.

In a prior opinion we stated that social security payments made to an aged parent for the support of minor children must be included in determining income for purposes of this exemption (2 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 51). That opinion indicates that the payments are child benefit payments, constituting a cash inflow to the parent from social security which is designated as an income source by the exemption statute. The subject situation can be distinguished in that the payments are made directly to the student in an adult and independent capacity. Therefore, it is proper, we believe, not to include social security payments paid directly to a student beneficiary aged 18-22 when computing income of an otherwise qualified parent in determining eligibility for the exemption authorized by section 467 of the Real Property Tax Law.

October 18, 1976

NOTE: Construes law prior to L.1992, c.145, which allowed the income of only one spouse to be considered under certain circumstances. Note also that the maximum income limitation has been repeatedly increased since this Opinion was issued.