Taxing State Land

Audit examines exempt acreage

An inventory conducted by the state Department of Taxation and Finance found that the Beacon City School District could receive another $315,000 annually if all state-owned land in Dutchess County were taxed. The City of Beacon would receive another $29,000 annually.

Land owned by the state cannot be taxed by local authorities unless the state waives its “sovereign immunity.” In many cases, it has done so, agreeing to pay taxes or make payments in lieu of taxes. In Dutchess, the state pays taxes to school districts for 6,900 acres, and to entities except the county on 835 acres, sending the county $2.44 million in annual revenue.

In Putnam, the state pays taxes on 25,000 acres, sending $4.7 million that is divided between the county, school districts and local governments.

State auditors found that, based on local assessor valuations that are probably outdated, Dutchess would receive another $3.3 million and Putnam another $166,500 annually if all state-owned land were taxed. In Dutchess, that would mean $726,000 in additional revenue for the county, $314,734 for the Beacon school district and $28,730 for the city. The audit did not break down the potential distribution in Putnam.