01/04/2021 Assessment Community Weekly
It’s 2021! And right out of the gate we have an important announcement. Keep reading to get the scoop, and don’t miss the questions and answers at the end.
New law requires assessing units to renew 2021 467 and 459-c exemptions without renewal applications
On December 21, we told you about the Governor's executive order that gave local governments the option to grant 2021 467 and 459-c exemptions to all property owners who received the exemption on the 2020 assessment roll without the need for renewal applications.
One week later, a new law made the provisions regarding 467 and 459-c mandatory instead of optional. The law also added that renewal applications must be accepted by mail or electronic means if the property owner is eligible for a larger exemption.
The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (Chapter 381 of the Laws of 2020) was signed into law by the Governor on December 28. Part D reads:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the interest of the health and safety of the public due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, every governing body of an assessing unit and local assessor shall extend to the 2021 assessment roll, the renewal of the exemptions received on the 2020 assessment roll pursuant to sections 467 and 459-c of the real property tax law, relating to persons age sixty-five and older and for certain persons with disabilities and limited income, and no renewal application shall be required of any eligible recipient who received either exemption on the 2020 assessment roll in order for such eligible recipient to continue receiving such exemption at the same amount received on the 2020 assessment roll, except as here-in provided. Provided however, that the local assessor shall make available renewal applications through postal mail or electronic means in order for eligible recipients to file renewal applications in the event that such eligible recipient determines his or her income has changed in a manner that would grant him or her a greater exemption than what was present on the 2020 assessment roll; and provided further that such governing body may adopt a local law or resolution which includes procedures by which the assessor may require a renewal application to be filed when he or she has reason to believe that an owner who qualified for the exemption on the 2020 assessment roll may have since changed his or her primary residence, added another owner to the deed, transferred the property to a new owner, or died; and provided further that no governing body of an assessing unit or local assessor may require eligible recipients to appear in person to file a renewal application for any reason.
This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire May 1, 2021. This act shall be deemed to have been in full force and effect on and after March 7, 2020.
Below are answers to some of your questions about this new law.
Note: The opinions below are advisory and non-binding. You should consult with the municipal attorney if you desire a more definitive answer.
Q. Are municipalities still required to pass resolutions to automatically carry over 467 and 459-c exemptions from 2020 into 2021?
A. No. The new legislation, Chapter 381, goes beyond the executive order by eliminating the local option of whether to allow automatic extensions of these two exemptions. As a result, these exemptions must now be automatically renewed in 2021, the only exception being where the governing body of the assessing unit empowers the assessor to request an application where he or she has reason to believe that the applicant may have changed his or her primary residence, added an additional owner to the deed, transferred the property to a new owner, or died.
Q. Does this new law impact first-time (rather than renewal) exemption applications?
A. No. Chapter 381 only impacts exemption renewals. The process for first-time applicants remains the same.
Q. What happens in a scenario where a senior had already applied for renewal for 2021 and was denied by the assessor because they were over the income limit this year? Does that denial stand, or should the assessor now grant the exemption as a result of this legislation?
A. An exemption hasn’t actually been denied until the tentative roll has been filed. Regardless, as we read the law, the assessor would be compelled to grant the exemption under these circumstances. The new law requires the assessor to automatically renew the senior citizens exemption in 2021 for anyone who received it in 2020. This requirement is retroactive to March 7, 2020. Therefore, we believe the assessor would be compelled to renew the exemption under these circumstances.
The only exception is that the new law gives assessing units the option to adopt a local law or resolution permitting the assessor to request an application where he or she has reason to believe that the owner may have:
- changed his or her primary residence,
- added an additional owner to the deed,
- transferred the property to a new owner, or
There is nothing in the law suggesting that the owner’s income eligibility may be similarly reviewed. Accordingly, our view is that even if the assessing unit adopted such a local law or resolution, it would still be impermissible for the assessor to deny the exemption in 2021 on the basis of income.
Q. Is this new law relevant to a city that filed its 2021 tentative assessment roll on December 15?
A. Yes. This law is retroactive to March 7, 2020, the date former Governor Cuomo initially declared the COVID Disaster Emergency.