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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 28

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessments, generally (notice of increase) (notice of change in taxable status) (villages) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 510, 510-a; 9 NYCRR 190-2.2, 190-2.3:

Villages which prepare their own assessment rolls pursuant to RPTL, § 1402(1) are required to comply with the notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a.

We have been asked whether village assessors are required to send taxpayers notices of increased assessments and changes in taxable status pursuant to sections 510 and 510-a of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL).

RPTL, § 1402 provides villages with three methods for the preparation of village assessment rolls. Whether a particular village is required to comply with the notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a, depends upon which of these three methods the village chooses to use.

RPTL, § 1402(1) requires village assessors to prepare an assessment roll “in the same manner and form as is required by law for the preparation of a town assessment roll.” Where a village adopts this option, the village assessor prepares the assessment roll without any formal reliance on the town assessment roll. (If the village is located within either Nassau or Tompkins County, the village roll would be prepared without any formal reliance on the county assessment roll.)

In New York State Assessors’ Association et al. v. State Board of Equalization and Assessment (Sup.Ct., Albany Co., November 20, 1987, Cobb, J.), the court construed the provisions of RPTL, § 500(1), which requires the assessors of each city and town to annually complete an inventory of all the real property located therein (see also, 9 NYCRR 190-1.2). The court held that the inventory requirement applies to villages which actually prepare assessment rolls, that is, pursuant to RPTL, § 1402(1). The court noted that RPTL, Article 5 is entitled “Assessment Procedure” and concluded that the “manner” of preparing an assessment roll referred to in RPTL, § 1402(1) includes completing and maintaining a property inventory.

The notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a, like the inventory requirement of RPTL, § 500(1), are part of the assessment procedure set forth in RPTL, Article 5. Furthermore, these notice requirements, no less than the inventory requirement, are an integral part of preparing assessment rolls, because they serve to inform taxpayers of changes in assessed value and taxable status and their opportunity to review these changes. Therefore, based on the holding New York State Assessors’ Association, supra, we conclude that the notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a apply to a village which prepares its own assessment roll pursuant to RPTL, § 1402(1).

RPTL, § 1402(2) provides villages with a second option for preparing the assessment roll: the village board of trustees may adopt a resolution authorizing the village assessors “to use the assessment roll of the county or town of the current year as the basis for the [village] assessment [roll] so far as practicable.” Thus, where a village has adopted such a resolution (see listing of these villages in 9 NYCRR 190-1.6(c)), the village assessors are authorized and encouraged to use the town or county assessments as village assessments. Even where an RPTL, § 1402(2) resolution is in effect, however, the village assessors retain the right arid duty to disregard the town or county assessment where warranted (e.g., where physical changes occur between the town or county taxable status date and the village taxable status date).

In 4 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 6, we concluded that where a village adopts a town assessment roll, it is not necessary for that village to mail notices of increased village assessments pursuant to RPTL, § 510, if the town has previously notified property owners of increases in assessments appearing on the town assessment roll. We believe that this continues to be an accurate statement of the law, and that these principles also apply to notices of change in taxable status required by RPTL, § 510-a, subject to two qualifications. First, to the extent that it is unclear, 4 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 6 should be read as limited to villages which have a section 1402(2) resolution in effect. Second, it is not incumbent upon village assessors to verify that the town has complied with the notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a. If the village assessment is the same as the town assessment, the village assessors may presume that the town has complied with the notice requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a, and the village need not duplicate that effort. Conversely, where a particular village assessment differs from the corresponding town assessment, the village must independently comply with RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a.

Finally, RPTL, § 1402(3) provides a third assessment option for villages: the village board of trustees is authorized to adopt a local law terminating the village’s status as an assessing unit. Where such a resolution is adopted, the village tax is thereafter levied on the village portion of the latest final town or county assessment roll. In other words, the town performs the assessment function on behalf of the village, and village officials are not authorized to make any changes to the town or county assessment roll (see list of these villages in 9 NYCRR 190-1.6(a)). Since a village which adopts a local law pursuant to RPTL, § 1402(3) is not an assessing unit and does not have an assessor, such a village is not subject to the requirements of RPTL, §§ 510 and 510-a.

February 19, 1988