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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 62

Opinions of Counsel index

Real property, definition of (double-wide trailer) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(12)(b); 102(12)(g):

Section 102(12)(g) of the Real Property Tax Law was intended to reenact section 2(6-a) of the Tax Law without change in substance or effect. A “double-wide trailer”, assembled in two parts, on a frame, was not the type of structure within the purview of subdivision 6-a of section 2 of Tax Law, and thus need not be located within the boundaries of an assessing unit for at least 60 days prior to taxable status date in order to be placed on the assessment roll. Such structure is properly classified as real property pursuant to section 102(12)(b).

Our opinion has been requested as to the taxable status of a “double-wide trailer”.

The home was purchased in April, 1973, and moved into on May 1st, taxable status date in the town. The question is whether the assessor may enter the assessed value of the home on the current year’s assessment roll despite the fact that it was not in place for sixty days prior to the current taxable status date.

Subdivision 12 of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law provides in part as follows:

12. “Real property”, “property” or “land” mean and include:
. . .
(g) Forms of housing adaptable to motivation by a power connected thereto, commonly called “trailers” or “mobile homes”, which are or can be used for residential, business, commercial or office purposes, except those (1) located within the boundaries of an assessing unit for less than 60 days . . . .

The statute set forth above is the successor to Chapter 726 of the Laws of 1954, which was the first legislation in this State to clarify the taxable status of trailers or mobile homes. The Legislature sought, by this act, to provide adequate means by which people residing in trailer homes and using governmental services would pay their full and fair share of real property taxes. At the same time, however, the Legislature intended to protect the owners of trailers which today we refer to as “campers”.  Accordingly, Chapter 726 exempted from taxation “. . . transient trailers which have been located within the boundaries of the tax district for less than sixty days” (emphasis added). This 1954 law became subdivision 6-a of section 2 of the Tax Law.

Chapter 959 of the Laws of 1958 enacted the Real Property Tax Law including section 102(12)(g), partially set forth above. Subdivision 5 of section 2002 of the Real Property Tax Law expresses the Legislature’s intent in the enactment of such law as it relates to sections of the Tax Law. It provides that “The repeal by this chapter [(c.959)] of subdivision . . . six-a . . . of section two of the tax law . . . and the reenactment of the provisions thereof in subdivision 12 . . . of section one hundred two of this chapter are intended to effectuate continuation and restatement, without change in substance or effect, of the provisions of such laws and the classification of any property as real property or personal property, as the case may be, shall not be broadened, increased, discontinued, diminished, affected or impaired by reason of such reenactment” (emphasis added).

Thus, although the word “transient” was dropped in the recodification, the legislative intent remained the same.

It is our opinion, therefore, that this “double-wide trailer”, which is assembled in two parts, on a frame, is not the type of structure within the purview of subdivision 6-a of section 2 of the Tax Law. Rather, we believe that this home is properly classified as real property pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision 12 of section 102 which provides, in part, as follows:

12. “Real property”, “property” or “land” mean and include:
. . .
(b) Buildings and other articles and structures, substructures and superstructures erected upon, under or above the land, or affixed thereto. . .

Since the home was in place on taxable status date, it was taxable real property as of such date. There was no need for it to have been within the assessing unit for sixty days prior to May 1.

March 1, 1974

Updated: