September 16, 1954 – Timothy Cohen to JSA

  • September 16, 1954 – Timothy Cohan (143 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York) to JSA (Dome Island Committee) –

Dome Island – Lake George

Exemption from taxation if owned by the Nature Conservancy


Will Dome Island in Lake George be exempt from taxation if the Nature Conservancy becomes the owner?


The tax law of New York exempts from taxation the real property of a corporation organized for “educational and scientific” purposes.


The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a membership organization of the District of Columbia. According to the certificate of incorporation, dated October 11, 1951, and which appears to have been recorded on October 22, 1951, it was organized as a non-profit corporation for educational and scientific purposes pursuant to the provisions of Title 29, Chapter 8, of the District of Columbia Code (1940).

The particular business and objects of the corporation are stated to be a) to preserve or aid in the preservation of all types of wild life, including natural areas, features, objects, flora and fauna, and biotic communities b) to establish nature reserves or other protected areas to be used for scientific, educational and esthetic purposes; c) to promote the conservation and proper use of our natural resources; d) to engage in or promote the study of plant and animal communities and of other phases of ecology, natural history and conservation; e) to promote education in the fields of nature preservation and conservation.




Section 4 of the New York State Tax Law exempts certain property from taxation. Subdivision 6 of this section refers to the “real property of a corporation or association exclusively for …educational and scientific purposes.” Such property is exempt from taxation.

There is the following limitation on the exemption: “But no such corporation or association shall be entitled to any such exemption if any officer, member or employee thereof shall receive or may be entitled to receive any pecuniary profit from the operation thereof., except reasonable compensation for services in effecting one or more of such purposes.”

The law does not state that the exemption applies to a corporation in a state other than New York. However, this question has been before the Courts and it was held in Williams Institutional Colored Methodist Episcopal Church v. City of New York, 1949, 275 App. Div. 311, that “it is the use of the premises, the carrying out of the exempt purposes that is the basic test.” And that the word “domestic,” since it does not appear in the Act cannot be read into it. The Court concluded that the exemption does apply to a foreign corporation. This was affirmed by the court of appeals in 300 NY 716.

On the law and the decisions I conclude that Dome Island is exempt from taxation when owned by the Nature Conservancy.

Timothy Cohan

143 Washington Avenue

Albany, NY