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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 68

Opinions of Counsel index

Farm structures and buildings exemption (scope) (maximum exemption) - Real Property Tax Law, § 483:

There is no limit to the number of farm buildings which may be exempted from taxation pursuant to section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law. Consequently, where certain farm buildings which have been exempt for three years are destroyed by fire and replaced by new buildings, the new buildings may be exempted for five years.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the exemption for farm structures and buildings (Real Property Tax Law, § 483). The facts are that a dairy farmer constructed a new barn, silo, and milk house in 1971, and received an exemption for such buildings on the assessment roll filed in 1972. He presumably continued to receive the exemption on the 1973 and 1974 assessment rolls. In March, 1975, the three buildings were destroyed by fire, and the exemption was deleted from the assessment roll filed in June, 1975. In the late summer and fall of 1975, the farmer built new farm buildings to replace those destroyed by fire. The question is whether the farmer will be entitled to a full five-year exemption on his new buildings, or whether he will be limited to the time remaining on his first exemption.

Section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that structures and buildings, constructed or reconstructed after January 1, 1969 and prior to January 1, 1979, which are essential to the operation of lands actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use, and which are actually used and occupied to carry out such operations, are exempt from taxation to the extent of any increase in value thereof by reason of such construction or reconstruction for a period of five years.

While section 483 contains many requirements which must be satisfied before an exemption may be granted, the statute contains no limitation as to the number of farm buildings upon which the farmer may receive an exemption. That is, in the given situation, if the fire had not occurred, and the farmer nevertheless constructed a new barn and other farm buildings, the new buildings would also be entitled to an exemption assuming the other criteria of section 483 were satisfied.

In a prior opinion of this office (2 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 27), we discussed the situation where property exempt pursuant to section 483 is destroyed and replaced prior to taxable status date. In that opinion, we indicated that where a farmer replaced destroyed buildings after taxable status date, he could obtain a total exemption for such replacement property.

Based on the foregoing, it is our opinion that the farmer in question may be entitled to a full five-year exemption on his new farm structures and buildings assuming the other criteria of section 483 are satisfied.

April 20, 1976