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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 36

Opinions of Counsel index

Farm structures and buildings exemption (agricultural use) (leased land) (garage) - Real Property Tax Law, § 483:

Application for exemption pursuant to section 483 may be made with respect to a farm building necessary to the operation of lands consisting of five or more acres actively devoted to agricultural use where a portion of such lands are leased. A garage, partially used in support of agricultural production, will be exempt to the extent of that portion so used, pursuant to section 483.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the eligibility of a four-car garage for exemption under section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law. The owner owns 1.68 acres of land which contain a home and the garage in question. One acre of this 1.68 acres is used for production of roadside stand vegetables. Approximately 150 acres is rented which is used primarily for raising wholesale vegetables, with some portion of the vegetables sold on a retail basis at a roadside stand.

Furthermore, the purpose of building this four-car garage was to provide for storage and packing space for the produce raised on the rented land. This garage was specially constructed in order to accommodate farm production: the doors and windows were placed so that two units could be partitioned off with heavy plastic for air conditioning; five inch concrete with reinforced wire floor and ten foot wide doors were used to accommodate and support farm trucks. A station wagon (used at least 50 percent of the time for collecting and hauling vegetables) and a pick-up truck which is needed for farm production is housed in the garage.

Section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law provides a partial exemption of structures and buildings necessary to the operation of lands which have been actively devoted to agricultural use for a period of two consecutive years. The term “lands actively devoted to agricultural use” means lands not less than five acres in area, actively used in bona fide agricultural production and operation carried on for profit.

The requirement in this statute that the lands used in bona fide agricultural production be not less than five acres in area does not mean that the owner of the farm building must necessarily own five acres of agricultural land in order to qualify for the partial exemption provided. There is no requirement in the statute that the person constructing the farm building actually own five acres of land in agricultural production, provided the building is essential to the operation of agricultural lands no less than five acres in area.

Accordingly, if an applicant has been engaged in bona fide agricultural production for the two preceding years, the land involved in the agricultural activity is not less than five acres in area, and the operation is carried on for a profit, the applicant may be eligible for the partial exemption of a building, provided the building or portions thereof are used directly and exclusively in the raising and production for sale of agricultural commodities or necessary for the storage thereof.

From the facts outlined, it appears that at least the portion of the garage in question which is used for storage and packing for wholesale distribution of produce raised on the rented land would be entitled to an exemption under section 483 of the Real Property Tax Law. If the truck is used exclusively to carry out farming activity, the portion of the garage used to house the truck may very well qualify also. The eligibility of the portion of the garage used to house the station wagon, which serves as personal means of transportation, is questionable. Of course, if the exemption is granted, and the property is subsequently converted to a nonagricultural use, the property, to the extent of the exemption, will be subject to roll-back taxes.

May 30, 1973

Updated: