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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 113

Opinions of Counsel index

Agricultural exemption (assessor’s responsibility) (qualified land) - Agriculture and Markets Law, § 305:

Land nontillable in nature but which supports and is an integral part of a bona fide agricultural operation, and land under and surrounding buildings such as barns, silos, tenant housing for regular and full-time employees and other similar structures is included in the category of “land used in agricultural production”, but land supporting the residence of the owner of the land (including a shareholder, partner, or participating member of a corporation, partnership, or legal entity which owns the land) is not included. The included lands should be categorized as “other” farmland and assigned the value annually certified by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment. The assessor has the basic responsibility of administering the law.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether land under and surrounding certain farm residences qualifies for an agricultural value assessment pursuant to Article 25AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law, and, if qualified, what value factor classification such lands should be assigned. Also asked is whether a local assessor would have any discretion in granting an agricultural value assessment.

Section 305 of the Agriculture and Markets Law (Agricultural Districts Law) provides that qualified land “used in agricultural production” shall be eligible for an agricultural value assessment. Such land includes land which is nontillable in nature but supports and is an integral part of a bona fide agricultural operation. Land under and surrounding buildings such as barns, silos, tenant housing for regular and full-time employees and other similar structures would be included in this category.

When completing the application for an agricultural value assessment (Form EA-491) acreage supporting such agricultural structures should be categorized as “other” farmland and assigned the value annually certified by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment.

It should be noted that the land supporting the residence of the owner of the land would not be included in the “other” category inasmuch as this land is ineligible for an agricultural value assessment. The assessor should make an independent determination for each application as to the amount of land that is being used as the homestead of the owner. The assessed value of the owner’s residence and the land supporting it will be entered as ineligible land on the application.

In the situation where property is owned by a corporation, partnership or other legal entity, any shareholder, partner or participating member living on the land will be deemed to be occupying an owner’s residence and not a tenant’s residence for purposes of this section.

The local assessor has the basic responsibility of administering the Agricultural Districts Law. Once he has determined that an applicant has met the stated requirements of the statute, however, he must compute the agricultural value assessment in the manner prescribed by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment and enter the exempt portion of the assessment, if any, on the appropriate section of the assessment roll.

June 5, 1974

Updated: