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Volume 11 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 98

Opinions of Counsel index

Veterans exemption (seriously disabled veteran) (eligibility for specially adapted housing grant) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458(3):

Section 458(3) of the Real Property Tax Law no longer requires receipt and use of a specially adapted housing grant to qualify an applicant for such exemption; a determination of eligibility for such grant will also suffice.

We have received an inquiry concerning the seriously disabled veterans exemption (Real Property Tax Law, §458(3)). A Vietnam War veteran has submitted his DD-214, letters pertaining to his approval for a Home Improvement and/or Structural Alteration [HISA] grant, and (most importantly), a letter from the Special Adapted Housing unit of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That letter states, in part:

It has been determined that you meet the basic requirements for specially adapted housing (SAH) and that it appears medically feasible for you to reside in such a home. However, this letter is NOT an approval of a grant to you. Therefore DO NOT make any agreements or incur any debts or obligations in connection with a specially adapted home until our representative has visited you (emphasis in original).

The veteran in question, however, has not yet decided if he wishes to receive a grant or use the same to build or modify a home to accommodate his disability.

We had previously read RPTL, section 458(3), as being “applicable to qualifying property built or improved with a Federal grant made pursuant to section 2101(a) of Title 38 of the United States Code...” (10 Op.Counsel SBRPS No. 5). {1}  However, last year section 458(3) was amended (L.2006, c.46) and, in relevant part, now provides:

[T]he primary residence of any seriously disabled veteran who is eligible for pecuniary assistance from the United States government, or who has received pecuniary assistance from the United States government and has applied such assistance toward the acquisition or modification of a suitable housing unit with special fixtures or movable facilities made necessary by the nature of the veteran’s disability, and the necessary land therefor, shall be fully exempt from taxation and special district charges and assessments and special ad valorem levies.

In other words, as amended, section 458(3) no longer requires receipt and use of a specially adapted housing grant to qualify an applicant for such exemption; a determination of eligibility for such grant will also suffice. {2}

We have discussed the letter from the Special Adapted Housing unit of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with representatives of that office and were advised that such letter does indeed establish the veteran’s eligibility for a specially adapted housing grant. {3}  As such, assuming the other requirements of section 458(3) are satisfied, in our opinion, the veteran’s primary residence now qualifies for exemption pursuant to section 458(3) regardless of whether he actually receives a grant pursuant to section 2101(a) of Title 38 of the U.S. Code or whether he uses such grant to purchase or modify his home to accommodate his disability.

March 26, 2007


{1}  The HISA grant, which is separate and distinct from grants paid pursuant to section 2101(a) of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, is therefore irrelevant to eligibility for exemption per section 458(3).

{2}  The sponsor’s memorandum for the bill enacted as chapter 46 of the Laws of 2006 states: “The full property tax exemption is a benefit intended for those veterans who served our country and as a result are seriously disabled. Their eligibility for pecuniary assistance should make them eligible for the full property tax exemption, regardless of whether or not they used the pecuniary assistance available to them.”

{3}  We were informed that no further correspondence will be forthcoming from that office unless the veteran actually applies for a grant.

Updated: