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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 96

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessments, generally (notice of increase) (change in taxable status without change in assessment) - Real Property Tax Law, § 510:

Where there has been no change in assessed value, section 510 of the Real Property Tax Law does not require an assessor to mail a notice of increased assessment, notwithstanding the fact that the taxable status of the property has been changed from exempt to taxable. However, it is recommended that the assessor do so.

Section 510 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that the assessor is to notify each owner of real property within the assessing unit of any increase in the assessment of his or her parcel. This notice is to be given not later than 10 days prior to the date the board of assessment review meets to consider assessment complaints. We have been asked whether an assessor is required to send a notice pursuant to this section to an owner of property which is listed as exempt on the prior year’s final assessment roll, but which has been made taxable on the current tentative assessment roll, without any change in assessed value.

Prior to 1947, there was no general provision of law providing for a notice of increased assessment although several counties were required by law to provide for a notice of increase within the county. The general requirement that the assessor send a notice of increased assessment to property owners was added to the Tax Law (as §26-a) in 1947 (L.1947, c.271). However, an examination of the legislative bill jacket for chapter 271 offers no assistance in responding to this question. Similarly, our analysis of the judicial and administrative opinions concerning section 510 of the Real Property Tax Law (successor statute to Tax Law, §26-a) disclosed no interpretation of that section relevant to this inquiry.

The exact language of section 510 directs the assessor to “mail to each owner of real property in their town, city, or county a notice of any increase in the assessment thereof for that year.” (emphasis added) The word “assessment” is defined in section 102(2) of the Real Property Tax Law as “a determination made by assessors of (1) the valuation of real property, including the valuation of exempt real property and (2) whether or not real property is subject to taxation or special ad valorem levies.” (emphasis added)  Accordingly, a plain reading of the language in section 510 leads to the conclusion that the section is applicable only where there is a change in assessed value; the requirement is not applicable where the sole change is in taxable status.

Nevertheless, we believe that the purpose of the notice in section 510 “is to advise the property owner of the ‘actual’ increase in the assessment of his property as it appears on the assessment roll as tentatively completed” (3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 94). This notice serves as a reminder to the taxpayer that he has a right to administrative review of his assessment by appearing before the board of assessment review. In the given situation, a notice of increase would serve to advise the property owner that his parcel will be liable to taxation or an increased amount of taxation on the current assessment roll, unlike the prior roll where his property was wholly or partially exempt. Although we cannot interpret section 510 to require an assessor to send a notice of increase in the factual situation presented, we certainly recommend that he do so.

It should be noted, however, that notwithstanding our recommendation, section 510 provides that failure by the assessor to mail the notice or of the property owner to receive the same does not invalidate the levy, collection, or enforcement of the tax.

November 1, 1979

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1983, c.7 adding RPTL, section 510-a.

Updated: