Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Receive Retroactively Effective Property Tax Exemptions in New York

While perusing recent issues of Tax Analysts State Tax Today for items of interest, I noticed two special acts passed by the New York legislature. Each act authorizes a governmental authority to accept from a not-for-profit organization a late application for real property tax exemption. The language of each act is similar, with one stating, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the assessor of the [named governmental body] is hereby authorized to accept from the [named not-for-profit] an application for exemption from real property taxes pursuant to section 420-a of the real property tax law for the [assessment roll of the relevant period], for the parcel owned by such [non-for-profit] which is located at [designated location]….” Each act also contains similar language authorizing a determination of exemption, with one stating, “If satisfied that such not-for-profit organization would otherwise be entitled to such exemptions if such not-for-profit organization had filed applications or renewal applications for exemptions by the appropriate taxable status date, the assessor, upon approval by the [appropriate governing body], may make appropriate correction to the subject roll.” Taxes already paid may be refunded if exemption is granted.

This system of relying on case-by-case legislative action to permit consideration of untimely filed applications for property tax exemption by taxing authorities seems a bit peculiar. Moreover, the text of each act is not phrased in mandatory terms; the legislation literally just authorizes the consideration of untimely filed applications. But hey, I have never practiced law in New York, so maybe I am missing something here. I would be interested in hearing a cogent explanation for this system by anyone who knows exactly why obtaining review of late exemption applications works this way in New York. 

(To access the two acts discussed in this posting, see 2012 STT 158-11 and 2012 STT 158-12 in Tax Analysts State Tax Today).


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