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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 20

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption (income requirement) (increase in limitation- postponement of effective date) - RPTL, §§ 302, 467, 1302:

A school district may postpone the effective date of a resolution increasing the income ceiling for purposes of the aged exemption.

In the fall of 1983, a school district adopted a resolution increasing its income eligibility ceiling for purposes of the aged exemption from $5,000 to $6,500, setting the July 1, 1985 school tax levy as the time for the implementation of this increased ceiling. We were asked whether such a resolution must be immediately effective or whether the district could legally postpone its effective date. We understand that the district wanted to ensure that city residents would not benefit from the resolution prior to those in the towns within the district.

The school district is comprised of a city and portions of several towns. The city has a taxable status date of December 1 and files its final roll on March 1, while the towns have a taxable status date of May 1 and file final rolls on August 1. Pursuant to RPTL, section 1302, the taxable status dates of the respective towns and city are controlling for school district purposes {*} and the district must levy upon the valuations found on the “latest final assessment roll of the city or town”. If the resolution in issue had been effective immediately, only residents of the city would have received its benefits on the July 1, 1984 school tax roll since the “latest” town rolls at that point in time would have been those filed on or about August 1, 1983, which were based on a taxable status date of May 1, 1983. As of the latter date, the school district’s income limit was only $5,000.

The July 1, 1984 school tax roll was based on town assessment rolls prepared on the basis of a May 1, 1983 taxable status date and a city assessment roll based on a December 1, 1983 taxable status date. As this resolution was not enacted prior to the May 1, 1983 town taxable status date, the owners of properties on the 1983 town rolls were not eligible to receive the benefit of the increased income ceiling on the 1983 assessment roll. By postponing the effective date of this resolution, the school district has ensured that eligible residents of the several towns as well as of the city will all receive the benefit of the increased income ceiling on the 1985-1986 school tax roll.

A “school district” is included within the definition of a “municipal corporation” in RPTL, section 102(10). As such, it is authorized by RPTL, section 467, to adopt a resolution providing a real property tax exemption for property owned by persons over 65 years of age. It is within the discretion of the school board, after a public hearing, to decide whether to adopt such a resolution, and, if adopted, to decide when it will take effect. Section 467 does not require that such a resolution take effect immediately. Conversely, it does not require that, where a school tax roll is prepared on the basis of assessment rolls having different taxable status dates, such resolution must benefit all eligible senior citizens from the municipalities comprising such district at the same time.

From the information provided, it does not appear that the school district resolution is improper. Apparently, it was the decision of the school board to postpone the effective date of this increased income ceiling until such time as all eligible senior citizens in the district could take advantage of it on the same school tax roll.

October 25, 1983


{*}  As enacted, the resolution in issue first takes effect for the several towns in the school district for the assessment roll prepared on the basis of a May 1, 1984 taxable status date. The resolution, however, will not be effective for the city until the preparation of the assessment roll based on a taxable status date of December 1, 1984.

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