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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 26

Opinions of Counsel index

Correction of errors (clerical error) (error in transcription on assessment and property record card) - Real Property Tax Law, § 550:

A transcription error which appears on both the assessment roll and the property record card is a “clerical error” within the meaning of section 550(2)(a) of the Real Property Tax Law provided the property record card also contains the correct assessment.

This inquiry involves an error in the transposition of an assessed value on the property record card. Apparently, the assessor determined the correct assessment in the last column of his property record card but transposed the figures in the place on the card to be read by computer keypunch operators. When the assessment roll was prepared, the transposed figure was keypunched as the assessed value. We are asked if this error is correctable under the Real Property Tax Law.

This mistake constitutes a “clerical error” as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision 2 of section 550, to wit:

(a) an incorrect entry of assessed valuation on an assessment roll or on a tax roll which because of a mistake in transcription, does not conform to the entry for the same parcel which appears on the property record card, field book or other final work product of the assessor, or the final verified statement of the board of assessment review. (emphasis added)

Mindful of the judicial prohibition against reading remedial statutes so strictly that a taxpayer’s rights are defeated by a mere technicality (People ex rel. New York City Omnibus Corp. v. Miller, 282 N.Y. 5, 24 N.E.2d 722), we conclude that this definition fits the facts of this case. It is true that the error appears on both the assessment roll and the property record card, however, the correct assessment is also entered on the property record card. The fact that the transcription error first occurred in an entry on that card does not take the error out of the definition of section 550(2)(a) provided the correct assessment also appears thereon, as happened here.

April 14, 1977