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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 122

Opinions of Counsel index

Religious corporations exemption (scope) (special assessments and special ad valorem levies) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(14), 102(15), 421, 462:

The taxable status of rectories and parsonages is governed by section 462 of the Real Property Tax Law, not section 421. Property which is exempt from taxation pursuant to section 462 is subject to special ad valorem levies and special assessments.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether real property exempt from taxation pursuant to section 462 of the Real Property Tax Law is subject to special assessments (defined in §102(15)) and special ad valorem levies (defined in §102(14)). Several assessors have indicated that they consider rectories and parsonages to be exempt from special assessments and special ad valorem levies to the extent provided in section 490 of the Real Property Tax Law.

In our judgment, the taxable status of rectories and parsonages is governed by section 462 and not section 421 (i.e., 420) of the Real Property Tax Law.

Residential use is not considered to be covered by the section 421 umbrella either as a primary religious use or as necessary or necessarily incidental to religious use (People ex. rel. Hutchinson v. O’Brien, 53 Hun 580, 6 N.Y.S. 862; People ex rel. Church of St. Mary v. Feitner, 168 N.Y. 494, 61 N.E. 762; Congregation Gedulath Mordecai v. City of New York, 135 Misc. 823, 238 N.Y.S. 525; cf., Matter of Mandelcorn v. Bruckman, 266 App. Div. 908, 42 N.Y.S.2d 716, aff’d, 292 N.Y. 543, 54 N.E.2d 385; and Interstate Lien Corp. v. St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 275 App. Div. 993, 91 N.Y.S.2d 228).

Section 462 provides for an exemption from “taxation,” which is defined in subdivision 20 of section 102 as a charge imposed upon real property by or on behalf of a county, city, town, village or school district for municipal or school district purposes, including a service charge, but not including a special ad valorem levy or a special assessment. Accordingly, property which is exempt from taxation pursuant to said section 462 is subject to special ad valorem levies and special assessments (see also, 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 64).

September 27, 1976

Updated: