OWNER OF A SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM INSTALLED ON SCHOOL DISTRICT PROPERTY WAS ENTITLED TO THE STATUTORY EXEMPTION FROM REAL PROPERTY TAX DESPITE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S RESOLUTION OPTING OUT OF THE EXEMPTION; THE RESOLUTION WAS NEVER FILED AS REQUIRED BY THE REAL PROPERTY TAX LAW (THIRD DEPT).
The Third Department determined the petitioner, Laertes Solar, the owner of a solar energy system installed on school district property, was entitled to the statutory exemption from property tax on the system. The school district had adopted a resolution opting out of the exemption. But the resolution had never been filed with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance (Department) or the NYS Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSEARDA) as required by the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL 487):
The … examination of “the language of the statute and the legislative intent underlying it” … leads us to agree with Supreme Court that the filing requirements of RPTL 487 (8) are mandatory and that the 2014 resolution was inapplicable to the system given the school district’s failure to meet those requirements during the relevant period (see RPTL 487  [a]). Indeed, although we need not defer to the Department’s interpretation of RPTL 487 given that this case presents a question “of pure statutory reading and analysis, dependent only on accurate apprehension of legislative intent”… , it is notable that the Department has also taken the position that an opt-out resolution “must be filed” with both it and NYSERDA … . It follows that — even assuming that the system may be viewed as a distinct parcel of real property that may be taxed — Laertes was entitled to the RPTL 487 exemption for which it applied (see RPTL 487 ). Matter of Laertes Solar, LLC v Assessor of the Town of Harford, 2020 NY Slip Op 02302, Third Dept 4-16-20