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Volume 7 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 118

Opinions of Counsel index

Housing exemption (entry on assessment roll); Assessment, separate (partially exempt parcels) (municipal housing project) - Public Housing Law, § 52; Real Property Tax Law, § 502:

It is improper to separately assess the taxable and exempt portions of a municipally-owned housing project on the taxable and exempt portions of an assessment roll. Instead, the entire assessment should be entered on the taxable portion, with the amount of the exemption shown in a separate column.

In what section(s) of the assessment roll should an assessor enter the taxable and exempt valuations of a housing project? An examination of the project contract reveals that this is a “State project” as that term is defined in the Public Housing Law. {*}  Paragraph (a) of subdivision 4 of section 52 of the Public Housing Law exempts from taxation property of a municipal housing authority included in a State project to the following extent: “So much of the value of the property included in a state project as represents an increase over the assessed valuation of the real property, both land and improvements, on the date of the contract . . .”.

This is clearly a partial exemption from taxation, notwithstanding that upon completion of the project a substantial portion of the assessed value may be exempt from taxation. Subdivision 5 of section 502 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that “if a parcel of real property is partially exempt, it shall be entered with the taxable property, with the amount of the exemption shown in a separate column.”

In addition to the clear statutory directive of section 502(5), support for our conclusion is found in a decision of the Court of Appeals which considered the assessment of real property owned by a nonprofit organization which was used in part for exempt purposes and in part for non-exempt purposes, and entitled to a partial exemption from taxation pursuant to former section 420 (now § 420-a) (Sailors’ Snug Harbor in New York v. Tax Comm. of the City of New York, 26 N.Y.2d 444, 259 N.E.2d 910, 311 N.Y.S.2d 486 (1970)). The Court concluded that the assessor had properly assessed the property entirely on the taxable section of the roll (see, 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 119). We believe that the Court’s reasoning in that case has equal application to the assessment of a “State project” of a municipal housing authority.

While we have suggested that an assessor may separately assess land and improvements thereon where the land is owned by one person and the improvements by another (see, e.g., 1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 95; 2 id. No. 116), this would have no application to the facts before us.

October 13, 1982

{*}  Subdivision 16 of section 3 of the Public Housing Law defines a “State project” as one “aided or financed in whole or in part by the state and not by the federal government . . .”.