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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 65

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessment review (tax certiorari proceeding) (State equalization rate) - Real Property Tax Law, § 720:

Where the State equalization rate is sought to be introduced as proof of ratio in a tax certiorari proceeding, it must be the rate determined for the assessment roll containing the assessment subject to review.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the use of the State equalization rate as proof of inequality in an RPTL, Article 7, tax certiorari proceeding. Specifically, the question is which rate should be used as proof of ratio with respect to a particular year’s assessment.

Section 720(3)(b)(2)(a) is quite specific in providing that, in assessing units other than Nassau County and New York City, it is the “[S]tate equalization rate established for the roll containing the assessment under review . . .” which may be offered into evidence. Thus, if the assessment on the 1990 assessment roll is subject to review, it is the State equalization rate determined for the 1990 assessment roll that may be offered as evidence of inequality (Guth Realty v. Gingold, 34 N.Y.2d 440, 315 N.E.2d 441, 358 N.Y.S.2d 367 (1974)). This rate will be determined in the year following the completion of the assessment roll containing the assessment under review (i.e., 1991 in this example).

The issue as to which State rate is appropriate to prove ratio was raised in Fishkill Center Associates, et al. v. Board of Review, et al., Supreme Court, Dutchess County, Index No. 1077/75, Sullivan, J., July 27, 1978, n.o.r. The respondent evidently argued that the State rate which should be used was that established (in the current calendar year) for the preceding year’s assessment roll. The court clearly rejected this contention, and the decision was affirmed without opinion by the Appellate Division (74 A.D.2d 616, 424 N.Y.S.2d 807 (2d Dept., 1980)).

Given the clear language of the statute and the above-cited decision, it is clear that the calendar year in which the State rate is finalized is of no relevance. Rather, the State rate that may be introduced is that which is determined for the assessment roll containing the assessment under review.

March 13, 1991