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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 90

Opinions of Counsel index

Exemptions, generally (transfer to non-exempt owner) (date of transfer - death of owner) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 302, 520:

For purposes of determining a pro rata tax liability pursuant to section 520, in the case of the death of the owner of tax exempt property, the date of transfer is the date of death, rather than the date a will is probated or the date of a subsequent conveyance.

Section 520 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that whenever any person, association or corporation not otherwise entitled to an exemption acquires title to real property which is currently exempt, the property is immediately subject to taxation and is to be taxed pro rata for the unexpired portion of the fiscal year during which the transfer of title occurred. Such property is also liable in full for taxes in any fiscal year commencing subsequent to the date of transfer.

Title to real property of a deceased person passes directly to the distributees or devisees upon death (Kingsland v. Murray, 133 N.Y. 170 (1892); In re Grace’s Estate, 62 Misc.2d 51, 308 N.Y.S.2d 33 (Sup.Ct., Nassau Co., 1970), aff’d 35 A.D.2d 783, 315 N.Y.S.2d 816 (2d Dept., 1970), lv to app. denied 28 N.Y.2d 485, 321 N.Y.S.2d 1025 (1971); In re Clark’s Estate, 69 Misc.2d 498, 329 N.Y.S.2d 995 (Surr. Ct., Alb. Co., 1972)). The fact that the decedent’s will has not been probated or that the decedent dies intestate does not affect this rule.

In administering section 520, therefore, the assessor should consider the title to have passed as of the date of death rather than the date a will is probated or the date of transfer by a subsequent conveyance. A pro rata tax should then be levied against the property for the unexpired portion of the fiscal year during which the transfer took place, and taxes should be levied in full for any fiscal year commencing subsequent to the date of transfer.

The fact that the identity of the new owner may not be ascertained immediately should not cause a problem. Taxes are levied against the property itself (RPTL, §304(1)).

May 1, 1985

Updated: