Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 118
Tax maps (generally) (consolidation of parcels) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1534:
Tax maps must be continuously updated as transfers of ownership and other changes occur, and errors are discovered. Barring such circumstances, however, two parcels on a tax map may be consolidated into one parcel where all the owners request the consolidation and the assessor deems the revision advisable as more indicative of the present status of the parcels.
A question has been raised as to whether it is legal to combine two parcels on a tax map (Real Property Tax Law, §1534) into one parcel, where the owner of one parcel is co-owner of the second and all parties request the consolidation.
The primary purpose of a tax map is to provide assessors with an inventory of real property and with a means of adequately describing real property on an assessment roll. The basic concept followed in preparing tax maps is the directive to assessors contained in section 500 of the Real Property Tax Law to ascertain all the real property in their respective assessing units.
Tax maps approved by the State Board for use in assessment administration must be continuously updated, as transfers of ownership and other changes occur, and errors are discovered. A revision of the map, such as the one suggested, may be more indicative of the present status of the parcels. Such a change, therefore, though in no way being proof of ownership, is not illegal. It must be noted, however, that as the tax map is primarily utilized to assist the assessor in performing his function pursuant to section 500 of the Real Property Tax Law, so it is the assessor, rather than any other municipal official, who should be approached by a taxpayer for purposes of initiating such a change.
A parcel consolidation, moreover, is not compulsory. Barring an actual change in ownership, therefore, the assessor’s determination of the number of parcels in the assessing unit, and the advisability of voluntarily combining heretofore separate parcels, would be controlling.
February 24, 1977