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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 52

Opinions of Counsel index

Veterans’ exemption (seriously disabled veteran) (computation) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458(3):

Although the additional exemption granted seriously disabled veterans (Real Property Tax Law, § 458(3)) is “in addition to” the exemption granted by subdivision 1 of section 458, this does not mean that the former exemption is to be applied after the latter. Rather, a seriously disabled veteran may be entitled to receive a maximum exemption of $22,500 from his general municipal tax assessment and $17,500 from his school tax assessment.

We have received an inquiry concerning the computation of the veterans’ exemption (Real Property Tax Law, § 458). The facts presented to us indicate that a certain veteran is entitled to a $5,000 veterans’ exemption pursuant to subdivision 1 of section 458 and an additional exemption in the amount of $17,500 pursuant to subdivision 3 of such section. The question is which one of these exemptions should first be applied to the veteran’s assessment. That is, is the veteran liable for the school taxes based on the first $5,000 of assessed valuation?

We have previously indicated that the exemption granted pursuant to subdivision 1 of section 458, which has a maximum of $5,000, is applicable to general municipal taxes but not school taxes. However, the additional exemption available to seriously disabled veterans pursuant to subdivision 3 of section 458 is applicable to school taxes as well as general municipal taxes (1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 60). Thus, a seriously disabled veteran receiving the maximum amount of exemption to which he is entitled would receive an exemption of $22,500 on his general municipal taxes and $17,500 on his school taxes.

Pursuant to section 502 of the Real Property Tax Law, the assessor must prepare the assessment roll in a certain form. Subdivision 5 of this section provides that partially exempt property shall be entered on the taxable portion of the roll with the amount of the exemption shown in a separate column. The partially exempt property is to be listed on the taxable portion of the roll even in the case where the partial exemption equals the assessed valuation. Thus, on the town assessment roll, the veteran should be credited with an exemption of $22,500 (or a lesser amount equal to an assessed valuation less than $22,500). Pursuant to subdivision 2 of section 1302 of the Real Property Tax Law, city and town assessors are to prepare for each school district, totally or partially within such city or town, a duplicate of that portion of the assessment roll applicable to such school district. In our opinion the assessor should list the veteran’s property as being exempt from school taxes in the amount of $17,500 (or a lesser amount equal to assessed value) on the copy of the assessment roll given to the school district.

That is, although the language in subdivision 3 of section 458 states that such exemption is “in addition to” the exemption granted by subdivision 1 of such section, this does not mean that it is to be calculated after the exemption granted pursuant to subdivision 1 is figured. To contend that a seriously disabled veteran is liable for the school taxes levied on the first $5,000 of his assessed valuation would be to penalize him for receiving the ordinary veterans’ exemption. That is, under that interpretation, the following situation could arise. Veteran A, whose property is assessed for $17,500, and who received a grant from the United States Government in such amount pursuant to section 458(3), but did not receive eligible funds pursuant to subdivision 1 of such section (or did not apply for such exemption pursuant to such subdivision), would be exempt from school taxes in the amount of $17,500, that is, totally exempt. However, veteran B whose property was likewise assessed for $17,500, and who received $17,500 pursuant to subdivision 3, but also receives a $5,000 exemption pursuant to subdivision 1, would be liable for school taxes levied on an assessment of $5,000. Thus, the veteran would be penalized for receiving an exemption to which he is entitled. In our opinion, this could not have been the intention of the Legislature, and accordingly, such interpretation is incorrect.

December 9, 1975

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1981, c.981.

Updated: