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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 43

Opinions of Counsel index

Veterans’ exemption (limitation) - Real Property Tax Law § 458:

The fact that eligible funds may have been received by one member of the eligible class in separate capacities does not alter the fact that the $5,000 limitation is absolute.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the application of a veteran for a real property tax exemption pursuant to the provisions of section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law. The question is whether a World War I female veteran, who is also the widow of a World War I veteran, is entitled to more than one $5,000 exemption under section 458 if eligible funds exceeding that amount have been used in the purchase of the real property in question.

Subdivision 1 of section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that “. . . real property purchased with the proceeds of a pension, bonus or insurance, or dividends or refunds on such insurance, or payments received as prisoner of war compensation from the United States government, heretofore or hereafter received, hereinafter referred to as eligible funds, granted by the United States or by this state for military or naval services, and owned by the person who rendered such services, or by his wife or unremarried widow, or dependent father or mother, or by his minor children . . .” shall be entitled to an exemption. Paragraph 2 of subdivision 1 of that section specifically provides that “No such exemption on account of eligible funds shall be allowed in excess of $5,000.”

Pursuant to the provision of paragraph 2 quoted above, the exemption allowed to a veteran or other member of the eligible class enumerated in the statute is limited to $5,000 in eligible funds used in the purchase of the real property. The fact that eligible funds may have been received by one member of the eligible class in separate capacities does not alter the fact that this limitation applies to the amount of eligible funds and not to the applicant’s circumstances. Accordingly, when the veteran in question applied $5,000 in eligible funds toward the purchase of the real property presently owned by her, she had acquired the maximum exemption available to her under the statute, and the fact that she would also qualify for the exemption in her capacity as the unremarried widow of a veteran does not constitute a ground for increasing this maximum limitation. Accordingly, the total exemption must be limited to $5,000.

May 3, 1973

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1988, c.100.

Updated: