Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 18
Miscellaneous organizations (fraternal organization) - Real Property Tax Law, § 421
Scope of exemption - Real Property Tax Law, § 428:
Real property owned by a fraternal organization such as a Masonic Lodge is taxable for all purposes. Section 428 grants an exemption solely to the grand lodge of a fraternal organization; local chapters are not entitled to exemption under section 428.
Section 421 of the Real Property Tax Law exempts from taxation real property owned by nonprofit organizations whose charter and activities strictly conform to those purposes enumerated in the section. While a Masonic Lodge may engage in some of the enumerated activities, the fact that the Lodge is also used for fraternal and other nonexempt purposes makes section 421 inapplicable. The statute requires that the real property be owned by a corporation or association organized exclusively for the enumerated purposes and that such property be used exclusively for the enumerated purposes. Because of the policy of strict construction of exemption statutes, fraternal organizations do not qualify for the exemption provided in section 421.
Section 428 of the Real Property Tax Law provides an exemption for certain fraternal organizations that meet the requirements set forth in the statute. It has long been the opinion of this office that section 428 refers only to the grand lodge of an organization, and that local chapters are not entitled to exemption.
March 13, 1970