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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 88

Opinions of Counsel index

Alternative veterans exemption (member of exempt class) (Merchant Marine) - Real Property Tax Law, § 458-a; 38 U.S.C. § 101(24):

Service in the Merchant Marine does not qualify an individual as a veteran for purposes of the alternative veterans exemption.

The alternative veterans exemption may be granted for qualifying residential real property which is used exclusively for residential purposes by a “qualified owner” (RPTL, §458-a(l)(d)). The term “qualified owner” in this statute includes a “veteran”. A “veteran” is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval or air service during a period of war and who was discharged or released therefrom under honorable conditions” (RPTL, §458-a(l)(e)).

Although the term “active military, naval or air service” is not defined in the Real Property Tax Law, the term is defined in section 101(24) of Title 38 of the United States Code to include “active duty, any period of active duty for training during which the individual concerned was disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, and any period of inactive duty training in which the individual concerned was disabled or died from injuries incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.” The term “active duty” is defined, in turn, as “full-time duty in the Armed Forces, other than active duty for training” (38 U.S.C. §101(21)(A)). “Armed Forces” is defined as, “the United States Army, Navy or Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard . . .” (38 U.S.C. §101(10); see also, General Construction Law, §13-a).

The Merchant Marine is not included within this last definition. The Merchant Marine, unlike the Armed Forces, is intended as “a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency” (46 U.S.C. §1295(1) (emphasis added)). It is our opinion, therefore, that service in the Merchant Marine does not qualify an individual as a “veteran” for purposes of the new alternative veterans exemption.

April 22, 1985

NOTE:  Construes law prior to L.1989, c.701.

Updated: