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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 123

Opinions of Counsel index

Farm structures and buildings exemption (generally) (leased structure) - Real Property Tax Law, § 483:

A farm building or structure leased by the owner of land it occupies may qualify for exemption pursuant to section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law provided the owner of the structure files for the exemption.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the eligibility for exempt status of a leased farm structure under the provisions of section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law.

The leased structure in question is a “Harvestore silo” erected on land utilized by the owner of the land in an agricultural operation. A “Harvestore silo” is a structure within the meaning of section 102(12) of the Real Property Tax Law, since it is erected or affixed upon the land itself (3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 30), and thus constitutes real property subject to assessment and taxation.

Section 483 provides that structures or buildings used directly and exclusively in the raising and production for sale of agricultural and horticultural commodities or necessary for the storage thereof and essential to the operation of lands of not less than five acres in area actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use shall be exempt from taxation to the extent of any increase in value by reason of such construction or reconstruction for a period of ten years.

Of relevance to this inquiry is the requirement set forth in subdivision 5 of this law that “Such exemption from taxation shall be granted only upon an application by the owner of the building or structure. . . .” Additionally, it should be noted that subdivision 8 provides that in the event that land or buildings or structures in agricultural or horticultural use, which have been granted exempt status, are converted to non-agricultural or non-horticultural use, the property shall be subject to roll-back taxes.

In 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 105, we indicated that it is not necessary prerequisite that the owner either actively farm the land or reside thereon and that active farm operation under a lease agreement may qualify for the exemption authorized under section 483. Similarly, there appears to be nothing in the statute which would preclude the granting of an exemption where there is separate ownership of otherwise qualified farmland and buildings or structures. However, in granting the exemption, an initial procedural prerequisite is for the owner of the structure or building to formally request an exemption by filing an application with the assessor. Thus, in the situation described herein, should an exemption be sought, an application would be required of the lessor (i.e., owner) of the “Harvestore silo.”

March 17, 1980