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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 42

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessments, generally (revaluations) (transition assessments) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1904; 9 NYCRR 190-4.1, Part 192:

Changes in assessed value made as part of an update of a prior revaluation program may not be phased-in using the transition assessment provisions of section 1904.

We have been asked whether section 1904 of the Real Property Tax Law (see also, 9 NYCRR 190-4.4) is applicable to an “update” of a previous revaluation program.

Section 1904 provides for a five year phase-in of a revaluation program, authorizing (in subdivision 1) the governing body of an approved assessing unit to adopt its provisions “prior to filing of the tentative roll in the first year” (emphasis added). Section 1901(b) defines “first year” to mean “the first year in which revaluation assessments are used in determining assessments in an approved assessing unit”. A “revaluation assessment” is defined (§ 1901(a)) as “the assessment determined by the assessor in accordance with the provisions of [§ 305(2)] in the first year of revaluation and the assessment so determined by the assessor for use in each year thereafter.”

Although one might be inclined to conclude that the “first year” would have to be 1982 or later (since the standard of § 305(2) did not take effect until December 3, 1981), there are contrary indications in the statute. For example, an assessing unit which completed a revaluation program in compliance with the State Board’s rules (9 NYCRR Part 192) promulgated pursuant to Article 15-B of the Real Property Tax Law, prior to the date of the new standard may be certified as “approved” (§ 1902(2); see also, 9 NYCRR 190-4.1(n)).

Thus, the Legislature was cognizant of earlier revaluations when it enacted section 1904. That being the case, we believe that the terminology used must be considered in the context of completed revaluations and those revaluations yet to be done. At the same time, we believe that a distinction must be drawn between a “revaluation” and an “update”. Thus, the State Board’s rules relating to approved assessing units define a “revaluation” as “the process by which the uniform percentage of value of all real property is determined and entered on the assessment roll completed and filed on or after January 1, 1971, as provided in sections 192-1.2 and 192-1.4 of this Chapter” (9 NYCRR 190-4.1(n)). In contrast, an “update” is defined as “the reappraisal and analysis of the value for all parcels in an assessing unit in a year subsequent to a revaluation for the purpose of maintaining a uniform percentage of assessed value on the assessment roll” (9 NYCRR 190-4.1(s); emphasis mine).

As explained in 8 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 1, we believe that an approved assessing unit may complete more than one “revaluation” for purposes of Article 19. However, we are also of the opinion that the unique assessment (§ 1904) and tax (§ 1903) options available to approved assessing units are only triggered by revaluations, not updates.

Thus, it is our opinion that the changes in assessed value made as part of an “update” of a revaluation program could not be made the subject of the transition assessment provisions of section 1904.

May 10, 1984

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1998, c.319.