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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 105

Opinions of Counsel index

Correction of errors (clerical error) (changes to assessment roll pursuant to board of assessment review’s instructions) - Real Property Tax Law, § 550:

Failure of the assessor to redetermine the amount of exemption relative to a final assessed value as determined by the board of assessment review constitutes a clerical error within the meaning of paragraph (b) of subdivision 2 of section 550 of the Real Property Tax Law.

We are concerned with the applicability of Real Property Tax Law, Article 5, title 3, to an error in the assessment of a parcel of real, property subject to an agricultural value assessment (Agricultural and Markets Law, Art. 25AA).

In determining a value for eligible agricultural lands in New York State, the State Board, as required by law, compiles and gathers data from all available sources and computes annually an average agricultural value per acre on a county-wide basis. These values are indicative of what one farmer would pay to another in an arms-length transaction for one acre of a certain category of farmland for continued farm use. The difference between this value and the standard market value assessment (if higher) is treated as an exemption for tax purposes (see, 4 Op. Counsel SBEA No. 32).

In the situation presented, there was apparently confusion regarding the nature of this exemption. A certain parcel eligible for an agricultural value assessment was assessed at $30,000 (full value assessment) as of taxable status date. The agricultural value ceiling (see, 9 NYCRR 194.1 (d)) as computed by the assessor on the basis of agricultural values per acre (see, 9 NYCRR 194.l(e)) established by the State Board, however, was $14,200. Therefore, on the tentative assessment roll the parcel was apparently listed as assessed for $30,000 but exempt for $15,800 (the amount of exemption being the difference between market value and the agricultural value ceiling (9 NYCRR 194.11).

The problem arose when the board of assessment review reduced the original ($30,000) assessment to $4,000. When this number was keypunched into the computer, the final assessment roll listed the property as assessed for $4,000 but still exempt for $15,800. Therefore, at the time taxes were extended, no taxes were levied on this parcel. We are asked whether title 3 of Article 5 applies to this error.

Clearly, this property should have been subject to taxation. Article 25AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law authorizes an exemption from taxation only where the assessment of otherwise eligible agricultural lands exceeds the land’s agricultural value. In the instant situation, the action of the board of assessment review in reducing the land’s assessment below its agricultural value rendered the land fully taxable (at the reduced assessment). That is, so long as the final assessment was $14,200 or less, no exemption should have been entered on the assessment roll (see, 9 NYCRR 194.11 (b)(4)).

This error was a “clerical error” within the meaning of paragraph (b) of subdivision 2 of section 550 of the Real Property Tax Law, to wit:

(b) an entry which is a mathematical error present in the computation of a partial exemption;

The mathematical error in this case occurred in the failure of the assessor to redetermine the amount of exemption relative to the final assessed value as determined by the board of assessment review. This type of error is correctable in the current or succeeding year upon the petition of the assessor to the board of assessment review for consideration at the so-called “second meeting” of that board (Real Property Tax Law §553(2)); thereafter, review may be had only upon petition by the taxpayer (§554(2)).

April 13, 1977

Updated: