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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 79

Opinions of Counsel index

Nonprofit organizations exemption (application requirements) (Schedule A) - Real Property Tax Law, § 420-a; 9 NYCRR 190-1.4(c):

An assessor may require a nonprofit organization applying for renewal of an exemption pursuant to section 420-a to file form Schedule A where its nonprofit status cannot be determined from the basic application form (EA-420-a-ORG).

A question has been raised as to whether the State Board’s Schedule A (EA-420-a-RNW-I; EA-420-b-RNW-I) must be filed by religious organizations when they submit their renewal exemption applications.

The State Board is empowered to prescribe “forms relating to assessments, including applications for exemption” (Real Property Tax Law [RPTL], § 202(1 )(h)). With respect to application for exemption for certain nonprofit organizations, the Board has prescribed certain forms.

The RPTL, § 420-a application consists of three forms: EA-420-a-ORG, EA-420-USE and Schedule A (EA-420-ORG). The general purpose of these is to provide the assessor with the information needed to determine whether property owned by an organization seeking exempt status pursuant to section 420-a is entitled to tax exemption. Form EA-420-a-ORG provides information on the applicant’s organizational purposes and Form EA-420-USE provides information on the use of the subject property. The assessor must have on file these forms or their renewal counterparts (Forms EA-420-RNW-I; EA-420-RNW-II and Schedule A EA-420-a-RNW-I; EA-420-b-RNW-I) in order to grant an exemption (9 NYCRR 190-1.4(c)).

The primary purpose of Schedule A is to provide the assessor with information regarding the applicant’s nonprofit status. Generally, an applicant will be exempt from Federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and the assessor may consider the applicant’s Federal exempt status to be proof of its nonprofit status. In such an instance, Schedule A is not necessary. However, some organizations, most notably religious organizations, are not required to receive formal recognition from the IRS in order to be exempt from Federal income taxes. In those instances, we suggest that the assessor require the applicant to complete Schedule A only when its nonprofit status cannot be determined from the EA-420-a-ORG form.

The determination of taxable status and exemption eligibility is clearly one of fact for the assessor, subject to administrative and judicial review. To the extent, therefore, that the assessor believes the information contained on Schedule A is necessary to determine the exemption eligibility of certain property, it is appropriate for the assessor to require the applicant to complete this form.

March 14, 1985

NOTE:  But see Opinion 9-76.