Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 102
Veterans’ exemption (minor child) (death gratuity or benefit) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458:
Real property owned by a minor child of a veteran is entitled to an exemption during the minority of the child provided that the property was purchased with eligible funds. Two types of eligible funds are payments made to the beneficiary of a National Service Life Insurance policy, and a death gratuity or benefit equal to six months pay. A dependency allowance would not constitute eligible funds. The veterans’ exemption may not be granted retroactively.
Our opinion has been requested concerning the exemption provided by section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law (veterans’ exemption).
A young woman submitted an application for this exemption executed and sworn to by her on June 25, 1964. It states that she is the owner of real property consisting of a house trailer and one-half acre of ground, purchased by her in June, 1964; that she is the minor child of a veteran and from February, 1945 to June, 1964, she received a $50 monthly payment from the Federal Government as a “death gratuity paid when father killed (in) WWII”; that such money was placed in a trust fund and that $600 was released to her to pay for the cost of the lot and the balance held in trust until age 21. The question is whether the applicant is entitled to a veterans’ exemption on the basis of the facts stated in the application.
Section 458 provides that real property owned by the minor child of a veteran is entitled to an exemption during the minority of the child provided the property was purchased with eligible funds.
We are unable to provide a definitive answer to this question since the application does not state the exact nature of the payments received by the applicant. If the payments were made to the applicant as the beneficiary of a National Service Life Insurance policy, such moneys would constitute eligible funds for purposes of this exemption. Also, a death gratuity or benefit equal to six months pay would also constitute eligible funds. However, a dependency allowance, whether lump sum or in installments, would not constitute eligible funds.
The applicant should be able to obtain from the local Veteran’s Administration office a statement as to the exact nature of the benefits received by the applicant. In any event, any exemption which may be granted to the minor child of a veteran continues only during the minority of such child and ceases as of age 21. Also, if it is determined that this exemption application has been erroneously denied in the past, it is not proper to grant it retroactively. The exemption, if granted, would be effective commencing with the assessment roll upon which it is first granted. If the applicant had previously filed complaints on grievance days on the basis of the denial of such application and commenced a proceeding pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law, the village attorney could enter into a court approved settlement of the dispute. However, if the applicant did not file complaints or commence such proceedings, the village is without authority to grant any refunds for past years.
May 12, 1972