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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 45

Opinions of Counsel index

Incorporated volunteer fire company exemption (generally) (organization of company or department) - Real Property Tax Law, § 464:

The real property tax exemption provided by subdivision 2 of section 464 of the Real Property Tax Law is applicable only to incorporated volunteer fire companies and departments which have satisfied the requirements of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law (§§404(f), 1402).

We have received an inquiry concerning the eligibility of real property owned by an incorporated volunteer fire association for a real property tax exemption pursuant to subdivision 2 of section 464 of the Real Property Tax Law. It is stated that the organization was created under the predecessor statute to the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law and is a charitable organization composed of volunteer firemen, and that the property in question is improved by a fire station, which houses the equipment of the association, and contains meeting rooms and is occupied exclusively by the members of the association for fire protection purposes and for certain social and fire business matters of the volunteer firemen. Apparently, the assessor has contended that the provisions of subdivision 2 are applicable only to “incorporated volunteer fire companies or fire departments” and are not applicable to “incorporated associations of volunteer firemen.” The question is whether the assessor is making a distinction grounded upon the name of the organization in question.

The assessor is quite right in stating that the provisions of subdivision 2 are not applicable to all incorporated associations of volunteer firemen but rather are applicable only to incorporated volunteer fire companies or fire departments. To qualify for the exemption pursuant to subdivision 2, it is incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate compliance with subdivision (f) of section 404 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. That is, the applicant must demonstrate: that notice was published as described in said section containing the name of the proposed company, the names of the men signing the certificate of incorporation, and a brief description of the territory to be protected by the fire company; that a public hearing was held on such question; and that the approval, signed and acknowledged, of a majority of the members of the town board is endorsed on or annexed to the certificate of incorporation. Such corporation would also be subject to the requirements of section 1402 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, which requires the directors of the corporation to file an annual report on or before January 15 in the county clerk’s office stating the names of the director and officers of the corporation, an inventory of its property, a statement of its liabilities, and a statement that it has not engaged, directly or indirectly, in any business other than that set forth in its certificate of incorporation.

Accordingly, it is not the name of the applicant which is important, but, rather, it is the manner in which it was incorporated which is controlling for purposes of subdivision 2 of section 464.

November 20, 1975

Updated: