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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 50

Opinions of Counsel index

Real property, definition of (air conditioning units) - Real Property Tax Law, § 102(12)(b):

Air conditioning units attached outside to the duct system of mobile homes, which are easily removable without damage to the mobile homes, are analogous to air conditioning units installed in windows of conventional homes and are not real property for taxation purposes.

We have received an inquiry concerning the taxable status of certain air conditioning units. The air conditioners are attached outside to the duct system of mobile home units with a minimum of expense and effort, and they are easily removable without damage to the mobile units. The air conditioning units are owned by the occupants of the mobile homes.

Paragraph (b) of subdivision 12 of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law defines real property to include “[b]uildings and other articles and structures, substructures and superstructures erected upon, under or above the land, or affixed thereto . . .”.

There is practically no problem as regards “buildings”, “structures”, “substructures” or “superstructures” erected upon the land, particularly where they are erected on foundations embedded in the soil. For instance, a lunch wagon placed on a brick foundation was held to be taxable as a “building and structure . . . erected upon . . . the land”, even though it could be removed from the foundation and was located on leased land (People ex rel. Herzog v Miller, 170 Misc. 1063, 11 N.Y.S.2d 572, aff’d, 258 App. Div. 724, 15 N.Y.S.2d 141). Paragraph 12 (g) of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law specifically declares “trailers” or “mobile homes” to be real property for purposes of assessment and taxation, except in certain limited circumstances.

The real problem centers upon “articles . . . erected upon, under or above the land, or affixed thereto.” From the information supplied, it would appear to us that the air conditioning units in questions are analogous to the air conditioners installed in windows in conventional homes and that therefore they should not be considered real property for assessment and taxation purposes.

January 20, 1975

Updated: