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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 16

Opinions of Counsel index

Religious or Missionary Organizations - Real Property Tax Law, § 421:

Real property which is owned by a religious organization but is vacant or unused is subject to taxation.

Land that is held by a religious organization but not used for religious purposes is not exempt from taxation. Land which is vacant or unused is not being used for religious purposes (subject to one exception), and it is therefore subject to taxation.

The one exception mentioned above is contained in subdivision 3 of section 421 of the Real Property Tax Law, which states that the exemption shall apply if construction of buildings or improvements is in progress or is contemplated (in goad faith) or if the real property is held by the organization upon condition that the title thereto shall revert in case any building not intended or suitable for one or more such purposes shall be erected upon such premises or some part thereof.

It would appear, therefore, that if the exception summarized above does not apply, the real property in question would be subject to taxation.

March 9, 1971

Updated: