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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 69

Opinions of Counsel index

Alternative veterans exemption (member of exempt class) (period of war) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458-a; 38 U.S.C. § 101:

For purposes of the alternative veterans exemption, a “period of war” means the same as that term is defined in Federal law (38 U.S.C. §101).

We have been asked to provide a listing of the actual dates of the wars or conflicts in which a veteran must have served in order to qualify for the alternative veterans exemption (RPTL, §458-a). To receive an exemption pursuant to section 458-a, the veteran must have served during a “period of war” as that term is defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section 458-a, namely:

-the Spanish-American war;
-the Mexican border period;
-World War I;
-World War II;
-the hostilities, known as the Korean war, which commenced June 27, 1950 and terminated on January 31, 1955; and
-the hostilities, known as the Vietnam war, which commenced January 1, 1963 and terminated on May 7, 1975.

Thus, it is only with respect to the Korean and Vietnam Wars that the dates of commencement and termination of the “period of war” have been set forth in the State statute.

However, a comparison of the statutory definitions included in section 458-a and those in section 101 of Title 38 of the United States Code, relating to veterans benefits, indicates that the definitions in the New York statute are derived from and based upon those in the Federal law. Accordingly, it is our opinion that for purposes of defining the wars and conflicts which preceded the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, it is appropriate to refer to the Federal definitions.

Thus, the Spanish-American War is the period beginning April 21, 1898 and ending July 4, 1902, and should be deemed also to include the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion, and, in the case of a veteran who served in the United States military forces engaged in hostilities in the Moro Province, the period beginning April 21, 1898 and ending July 15, 1903 (38 U.S.C. §101(6)). The “Mexican border period” is the period beginning May 9, 1916 and ending April 5, 1917 (38 U.S.C. §101(30)). World War I should be deemed to be the period beginning April 6, 1917 and ending November 11, 1918, and in the case of a veteran who served with the United States military forces in Russia, the period beginning April 6, 1917 and ending April 1, 1920 (38 U.S.C. §101(7)). World War II is the period beginning December 7, 1941 and ending December 31, 1946 (38 U.S.C. §101(8)).

November 1, 1984

Updated: