Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 96
Assessment roll (change of ownership); Tax roll (change of ownership) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 502, 922:
Where changes in condition and ownership of real property occur between taxable status date and lien date, there is no provision in law to authorize that such changes be reflected on the current town assessment and tax rolls.
We have been asked whether changes in ownership occurring between taxable status date and lien date may be reflected as they occur on assessment and taxation records.
Sound maintenance procedure calls for a continuous update of information relating to real property assessments including changes in ownership. Thus, records used to prepare an assessment roll should reflect changes as they occur. However, in general terms, where changes in the condition and ownership of real property occur between taxable status date and lien date, there is no provision in law to authorize that such changes be reflected on the current town assessment and tax rolls.
The Real Property Tax Law provisions generally applicable throughout the State require that all real property shall be assessed annually according to its condition and ownership as of taxable status date (§ 302). Assessors are required to prepare a tentative assessment roll listing thereon the condition and ownership of real property as it existed on taxable status date (see, §§ 500, 502, 506). After an assessment roll is tentatively completed no changes may be made to such roll except those made by the board of assessment review upon complaint of a party aggrieved (§ 502), or upon petition of the assessors to the county legislative body to correct certain clerical errors which may have occurred (§ 554), or by the county legislative body which may correct any manifest error on an assessment roll properly before such body for its action, confirmation or review (§ 556). (Incidentally, attention is directed to Chapter 177 of the Laws of 1974 in regard to correction of assessment rolls and tax rolls.)
As part of the levy of taxes, the amounts due are extended in a separate column on the assessment roll (§ 900), and upon the annexing by the county legislative body to the assessment roll of a warrant for the collection of taxes, the assessment roll becomes the tax roll (§ 904). Upon receipt of the tax roll and warrant the collecting officer is required to mail a statement showing the amount of taxes due to each owner of real property listed on the tax roll (§ 922).
Recognizing that where there is an ownership change occurring between taxable status date and lien date, such change may not be reflected on the current assessment or tax roll, and that the payment of taxes levied on the property will become the responsibility of the new owner, the attorneys at the closing generally will instruct the new owner of his responsibility to pay taxes. The grantor will usually be asked to forward a tax bill mailed to him to the new owner. In any event the new owner may and should contact the receiver of taxes, provide a description of his property, and request a statement of the amount of taxes due on the real property. Such new owner may also arrange to have such statement forwarded to a lending institution which may hold a mortgage on the property where the lending institution may hold funds in escrow for the payment of taxes.
May 30, 1974