Real Property Tax Exemption

Published on June 3rd, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A.3692-B Gunther / S.1662-B Skoufis
In relation to Real Property Tax Exemption 

The above-referenced bill seeks to impose a seven-year deadline on the time in which a non-profit organization in the mandatory exempt class (religious, charitable, hospital, educational or moral or mental improvement of men, women or children) must build or make improvements on acquired property in order to retain the property tax exemption on that land. The Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.

Placing an arbitrary time limit in which a non-profit organization must construct a building or make other physical improvements on subject property does not account for the economic realities of the nonprofit realm. Organizations must rely on fundraising and grants for funding, and often prioritize expenditures for the services provided to the poor and vulnerable populations they serve above their own building projects. The existing law has a “good faith” standard in place governing this matter. The arbitrary deadline proposed by this legislation might well jeopardize the good and difficult work of innumerable organizations that faithfully serve the people of New York State. 

Further, we note the recent amendment to this legislation intended to exempt real property used for the purpose of a children’s overnight camp or summer day camp. While we support the intention of this amendment, we believe it clearly demonstrates the recognition by sponsors of the legitimate exempt purpose of undeveloped land. We are concerned that local tax assessors will use the provisions of this bill to aggressively push nonprofit property onto the local tax rolls despite the legitimacy of the nonprofit purpose of the usage. 

The Introducer’s Memorandum cites the example of a non-profit charitable organization removing property from the tax roll by purchasing land as an investment vehicle. We believe the current law’s “good faith” standard is an adequate remedy to allow assessors to challenge singular events such as this without causing upheaval in the nonprofit community.