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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 7

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption; sliding scale aged exemption (renewal application) (authorization for late filing) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 467, 467-d, 552:

Where a municipality granting the aged exemption or sliding scale aged exemption adopts a local law to permit applicants seeking renewal of such exemption to file an application after taxable status date but before the date the board of assessment review meets to hear assessment complaints, the assessor must petition (form EA-552) the board of assessment review to accept the application. This procedure must be followed even if the assessor receives the application before the tentative assessment roll is filed.

We have been asked whether board of assessment review action is required where a renewal application for the aged exemption is received by the assessor after taxable status date but prior to the date the tentative assessment roll is filed. Sections 467 and 467-d of the Real Property Tax Law now permit assessing units to adopt local laws authorizing assessors to accept applications for renewal of the applicable aged exemption where the application is filed after taxable status date but before the date the board of assessment review meets to hear complaints (see, L. 1984, c. 534). Similarly, section 552(2)(a) of the RPTL authorizes assessors to submit late applications for renewed aged exemptions to the board of assessment review by means of the verified statement (form EA-552) used to petition the board of assessment review to correct clerical errors, errors in essential fact and unlawful entries as those terms are defined in section 550 of the RPTL.

In general, all real property is assessed according to its condition and ownership as of taxable status date (RPTL, § 302(1)), and exempt status is also determined as of this date (Semple School for Girls v. Boyland, 308 N.Y. 382, 126 N.E.2d 294 (1955)). Consequently, most exemption statutes, including the aged exemption, contain a requirement that an application for exempt status be submitted on or before taxable status date (e.g., RPTL, §§ 467(5), 467-d(5)). Sections 467 and 467-d now authorize a limited exception to this general rule by permitting a local government to enact local legislation to allow senior citizens seeking renewals of aged exemptions to file their applications for renewal after taxable status date (RPTL, §§ 467(8), 467-d(9)). {*}

However, the new provisions do not permit an assessor to accept and act upon a late application without further administrative procedure. Rather, the local law allowing late application must be in effect, and board of assessment review approval is specifically necessary before the assessor can renew aged exemptions for which late filing has been allowed by the assessing unit. As amended, section 552(2)(a) of the RPTL now provides, in relevant part, “[w]here . . . an application for [an aged] exemption is received after taxable status date [by an assessor] . . ., the assessor shall execute and transmit to the board of assessment review a verified statement that . . . such late application for exemption has been received.”

Although this statutory requirement might seem unnecessary when the assessor receives the late application prior to filing the tentative assessment roll, its purpose is to preserve the integrity of the relationship between the assessor and board of assessment review. If this procedure is not followed and the application form is properly dated (i.e., post-taxable status date), an examination of the assessment roll and the late application would create the impression that the assessor had accepted and approved an exemption application that, on its face, should have been denied as untimely. At the very least, if an exception is made and a late application is accepted, the approval by the board of assessment review pursuant to section 552 creates an audit trail.

October 18, 1984

{*}  Eligibility for exemption, however, will still be measured as of taxable status date. For example, if a senior citizen was not using the property exclusively for residential purposes on taxable status date, but began doing so thereafter, no exemption will be allowable on that year’s assessment roll notwithstanding the local law to permit late filings for the exemption.