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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 5

Opinions of Counsel index

Taxable status date (occurrence on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday) - General Construction Law, § 2 5-a; Judiciary Law, § 5; Real Property Tax Law, §§ 302, 500:

Assessments must be based upon the condition and ownership of property as of taxable status date even if that date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday; however, in the event of such a coincidence, the time to perform any act or duty required to be done by the taxable status date, such as the filing of an application for exemption, is extended until the next business day.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the assessment and taxation of real property damaged by a tornado on May 2, 1983. Taxable status date was May 1, a Sunday.

Subdivision one of section 500 of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) requires that “On or before the first day of May in each year, the assessors in each city and town shall ascertain by diligent inquiry all the real property located therein and the names of the owners thereof.” {1}  Subdivision one of section 302 provides, in relevant part, that “The taxable status of real property in cities and towns shall be determined annually as of the first day of May. All real property shall be assessed in the city or town in which it is situated according to its condition and ownership as of such date.” {2}

Therefore, we have previously stated that, as a general rule:

Real property must be assessed according to its condition and ownership as of the applicable taxable status date. Any changes in either the condition or ownership occurring after taxable status date cannot be reflected until the next ensuing assessment roll is prepared. . . . Any changes in the condition of the property following taxable status date, such as destruction by fire or demolition, would not affect the taxable status of the real property parcel for the ensuing fiscal year. The reason for this is to achieve a degree of stability and certainty in the tax structure, inasmuch as the budgetary requirements of local municipalities are predicated on the assessment roll. The taxable status date serves as a cutoff date to fix the value of all assessable real property as of one certain date and cannot be construed to embrace a shifting period (3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 108).

We note that May 1, 1983 was a Sunday. Subdivision one of section 25-a of the General Construction Law provides, in relevant part, that “when any period of time, computed from a certain day, within which or after which or before which an act is authorized or required to be done, ends on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, such act may be done on the next succeeding business day.” Consequently, where a statute authorizes or requires performance of an act or duty on or before taxable status date and taxable status date occurs on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, section 25-a permits the act or duty to be performed timely on the next business day. {3}

However, we also note that the assessor is not required to assess real property on May 1; rather, the assessor must assess property according to its condition and ownership as of such date. In other words, taxable status date establishes a chronological common denominator for assessing real property; the assessor actually assesses real property between taxable status date and the completion and filing of the tentative assessment roll (cf., People ex rel. Luther v.McDermott, 265 N.Y. 447, 191 N.E. 770 (1934)). Therefore, it is our opinion that where taxable status date occurs on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, section 25-a of the General Construction Law does not operate to shift taxable status date to the next succeeding business day and does nothing to alter an assessor’s responsibility to assess property as of its condition and ownership on that date. However, section 25-a does operate to extend until the next business day the time for performing any act or duty otherwise required by statute to be performed by taxable status date (e.g., the filing of applications for tax exemption).

At common law, the general rule was that “no judicial act can be performed on Sunday” (Smith v. Wilcox, 24 N.Y. 353 (1862)). The rule has been substantially codified in section five of the Judiciary Law which provides, in relevant part, that: “A court shall not be opened, or transact any business on Sunday. . .”. In Jones v. East Meadow Fire District, 21 A.D.2d 129, 249 N.Y.S.2d 771 (1946), the court held that disciplinary proceedings conducted, on Sunday by an administrative tribunal, the Board of Fire Commissioners, were invalid and in violation of section five.

While there is authority for the proposition that assessors act judicially when assessing property (see, Mercantile National Bank v. Mayor, etc. of the City of New York, 172 N.Y. 35, 64 N.E. 756 (1902)), even if it is assumed arguendo that section 5 applies to such acts, the fact remains that if May 1 occurs on a Sunday, the assessor is not required to assess property on that day. In this instance, the assessor’s only obligation is to base his assessments, whenever made, on the condition and ownership of property as of that date. It is inconceivable that predicating a judicial or quasi-judicial determination on a state of facts which existed on a Sunday would be violative of section 5, so long as the actual determination is not made on a Sunday. Therefore, we believe that where May 1 falls on a Sunday, section 5 of the Judiciary Law neither operates to shift taxable status date to the next business day, nor does it affect the assessor’s duty to assess property according to its condition and ownership as of that date.

Accordingly, in our opinion, where taxable status date occurs on a Sunday, assessments must be made on the basis of the condition and ownership of property as of that day; however, the time to perform any act or duty authorized or required by statute to be done by taxable status date, such as filing applications for exemptions, is extended until the next business day.

June 20, 1983


{1}  Effective January 1, 1986, subdivision one of RPTL, section 500 reads as follows: “On or before the first day of March in each year, the assessors in each city and town shall complete an inventory of all the real property located therein and the names of the owners thereof.” (Chapter 379, Laws of 1984).

{2}  Effective January 1, 1986, subdivision one of RPTL, section 302 provides, in applicable part: “The taxable status of real property in cities and towns shall be determined annually according to its condition and ownership as of the first day of March and the valuation thereof determined as of the applicable valuation date.” (Chapter 379, Laws of 1984).

{3}  Section 25-a refers to periods of time “computed from a certain day”. Although many statutes authorize or require performance of acts or duties on or before taxable status date, such as the filing of applications for tax exemptions (see, RPTL, §§458, 467, 483, 485-b), the period to perform the act or duty is usually not expressly reckoned from a date certain. Given the cyclical nature of the assessment calendar, we believe that it is implicit in these statutes that the period to perform the act or duty is reckoned from the previous taxable status date.

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