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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 38

Opinions of Counsel index

Board of assessment review (powers and duties) (exemptions - late applications) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 522, 524; 9 NYCRR 90-1.4(c):

A board of assessment review may not grant an exemption where an application was not timely filed.

Subdivision 2 of section 524 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that the grounds for the review of an assessment by the board of assessment review shall be that the assessment complained of is “excessive, unequal or unlawful, or that real property is misclassified.”  An “excessive assessment” is defined as including “an entry on an assessment roll of the taxable assessed valuation of real property which is excessive because the real property failed to receive all or a portion of a partial exemption to which the real property or owner thereof is entitled pursuant to the law authorizing the partial exemption” (§ 522(4)(b)).

Paragraph (h) of subdivision 1 of section 202 provides that the State Board shall “[p]rescribe, and in its discretion furnish to assessors at the expense of the state, forms relating to assessments, including applications for exemption from real property taxation, which forms shall be used by the assessors and the use of which shall be enforced by the board”.

Paragraph (1) of that subdivision authorizes the State Board to “[a]dopt and amend such rules, regulations, orders and determinations, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary for the exercise of its powers and the performance of its duties . . .”. In its rules, the State Board requires that in preparing and using the tentative assessment roll, the assessor shall “[r]etain in the office files a properly completed application form for each exemption which is entered on the tentative assessment roll, whenever the State Board of Equalization and Assessment has prescribed an application form for exemption from real property taxation” (9 NYCRR 190-1.4(c)).

The vast majority of statutory exemptions require the filing of an application with the assessor on or before taxable status date. We have consistently said that the timely filing of such an application is a jurisdictional prerequisite for entitlement to the exemption. The definition of an “excessive assessment” previously cited in this Opinion (see, RPTL, § 522(4)(b)) would not apply to the circumstance where a property owner failed to timely file an application for the exemption as required by the particular statute.

It should be noted, however, that the statutes which provide for the aged exemption (RPTL, § 467) and the sliding scale aged exemption (RPTL, § 467-d) authorize assessing units to adopt a local law to permit the assessor to accept “late” applications for renewal exemptions filed after taxable status date but before the day on which the board of assessment review meets to hear complaints (as amended by chapter 534 of the Laws of 1984, effective July 27, 1984). At one time, an application for either exemption was required to be filed with the assessor on or before taxable status date. Municipalities which grant the sliding scale exemption need only enact a single local law to authorize such late filing of renewal applications for both the ordinary and sliding scale exemptions. (Section 552 requires the assessor to transmit all “late” applications to the board of assessment review for the board’s consideration when it meets to hear assessment complaints.)

Accordingly, except to the extent provided in sections 467 and 467-d, a board of assessment review may not grant an exemption where an application for the exemption was not timely filed.

October 16, 1984