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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 36

Opinions of Counsel index

Senior citizens exemption (application) (affidavit in lieu of renewal application-local option) - Real Property Tax Law, § 467:

Each municipal corporation (i.e., county, city, town, village or school district) has the option pursuant to RPTL, § 467(6) to eliminate the annual filing requirement for renewal of the senior citizens exemption.

Paragraph (b) of subdivision 6 of section 467, as added by L.1989, c.395, authorizes local governments (except New York City) to eliminate the annual filing requirement for senior citizens who have received the exemption on five consecutive assessment rolls. We are asked whether the exemption should be automatically granted for school tax purposes where a town eliminates the annual renewal requirement pursuant to section 467(6)(b) but a school district does not.

Section 467(6)(b) authorizes elimination of the annual filing requirement “provided the governing board of the municipality in which said property is situated after public hearing adopts a local law, ordinance or resolution providing therefor . . .” (emphasis added).

A “municipal corporation,” a term we equate with “municipality,” is defined to include a county, city, town, village or school district (RPTL, § 102(10)). Given the plain language of the statute, we conclude that each municipal corporation (e.g., school district) must act separately if it wishes to eliminate the filing requirement for its tax purposes. The availability of this option to each municipal corporation is consistent with other senior citizens exemption options: 1) grant of the basic exemption itself (§ 467(1)(a)); 2) establishment of the local income ceiling (§ 467(1)(a)); 3) grant of the “sliding scale” senior citizens exemption (§ 467(1)(b)); and 4) grant of the exemption to otherwise eligible senior citizens who become 65 after taxable status date. (Contrast the authority to accept “late” renewal applications which is limited to cities, towns, villages or counties having the power to assess (§ 467(8).)

The Sponsor’s memorandum in support of the bill which became chapter 395 characterizes the annual filing requirement as “burdensome and unnecessary” for both senior citizens and assessors. The possibility that a senior citizen might have to file for one municipal tax purpose (e.g., school taxes) but not for another (e.g., town taxes) may not have been envisioned by the Legislature. Nevertheless, given the current statutory language, it is our opinion that where a town eliminates the filing requirement, but a school district does not, a renewal application must still be filed with the town assessor for school tax purposes.

March 23, 1990