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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 63

Opinions of Counsel index

Veterans’ exemption (seriously disabled veteran) (scope of exemption - effect of increased maximum exemption) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458(3):

Chapter 766 of the Laws of 1973, which amended subdivision 3 of section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law so as to increase the maximum amount of exemption granted thereunder, did not automatically entitle any seriously disabled veteran to an increased exemption. The amount of exemption allowed pursuant to subdivision 3 is based on the amount of money actually received from the United States Government for use in the purchase of special housing made necessary by reason of the veteran’s disability.

We have received an inquiry concerning a 100 percent service-connected disabled veteran who received the sum of $10,000 from the United States toward the acquisition of suitable housing made necessary by his disability. He also receives a veteran’s exemption in the amount of $5,000, but contends that he should be entitled to more than a $15,000 total exemption.

Section 458, subdivision 1, of the Real Property Tax Law, provides that property owned by a veteran or certain other persons designated by the statute may be entitled to an exemption to the extent (not to exceed $5,000) that certain designated moneys (“eligible funds”) were used in the purchase of the property.

Subdivision 3 of this section provides an additional exemption to any seriously disabled veteran who has received pecuniary assistance from the United States Government toward the acquisition of a suitable housing unit with special fixtures or movable facilities made necessary by the nature of the veteran’s disability. The amount of this additional exemption was increased to $17,500 by Chapter 766, Laws of 1973.

Eligible funds are not relevant to subdivision 3 of section 458. Rather, this section is concerned with a lump sum payment received from the United States Government toward the purchase of special housing. That is, the amount of the exemption authorized by subdivision 3 is directly related to the amount of moneys paid by the United States Government to the veteran for the purpose of purchasing a suitable housing unit to the extent that such moneys are so used. Subdivision 3 did not previously provide a flat $10,000 to seriously disabled veterans, nor does it now provide a flat $17,500 exemption. In both cases, the exemption must be measured on the basis of the amount of moneys received which were actually used to purchase suitable housing units.

There are, therefore, two situations in which a seriously disabled veteran, who was previously granted an exemption, may receive the increased exemption pursuant to the recent amendment. The first is if the veteran received more than $10,000 from the Government to be used toward the purchase price of suitable housing. For example, if the veteran received $12,000, while he was previously limited to a $10,000 exemption, he could now receive a greater exemption, the full $12,000. The second situation is if he should receive additional moneys from the United States Government to be applied toward the purchase price of suitable housing, and he applies such moneys, for example, toward the payment of the principal balance of an existing purchase money mortgage on such property, or uses such additional moneys to install additional fixtures or facilities made necessary by the nature of the disability, or to replace existing fixtures or facilities.

Thus, given the facts presented, it is our opinion that the veteran is entitled to a $5,000 exemption from general municipal taxes, said $5,000 exemption not being applicable to school taxes, and an additional exemption of $10,000 from general municipal and school taxes (1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 60). The enactment of the aforementioned Chapter 766 of the Laws of 1973 did not automatically entitle any seriously disabled veteran to an increased exemption.

December 20, 1974

Note:  Construes law prior to L.1981, c.981.

Updated: