By Assemblyman Will Barclay
In this year’s enacted state budget, changes were made to the STAR program that requires Basic STAR recipients to re-register. It became clear that the state needed to make changes to the program after a Comptroller’s audit found some property owners were abusing the system. By requiring people to reapply, the state can weed out any duplicate applications and stop people from trying to double dip.
STAR stands for School Tax Relief program. It was first enacted in 1999 when Governor Pataki was in office. Here is how it works: The first $30,000 of an owner-occupied residence is tax exempt for those who qualify. The state then reimburses school districts the equivalent of the property tax exemption. These funds are paid annually in the form of school aid through the state budget. This year’s budget provided $3.4 billion for the program.
STAR is a direct property tax savings for homeowners. It’s a great program and saves people anywhere between $300 and $800 per year, according to the New York State Tax and Finance website’s data. In order to qualify, homeowners need to make less than $500,000 and live in the home they reside. The reason the state is requiring homeowners to reapply is due fraud that occurred within the system. In some cases, people with two properties in two different municipalities were receiving the STAR exemption twice. In order to prevent this type of fraud, the state is requiring applicants to re-register in order to cross reference all owner-occupied properties that qualify.
None of these changes apply to recipients of Enhanced STAR. Enhanced STAR is essentially the STAR program for seniors. It differs in that it provides approximately double the savings compared to Basic STAR. Homeowners who are 65 and older and whose income does not exceed $81,900 are eligible for Enhanced STAR. Those who participate in Enhanced STAR do not need to reapply because the state uses a different application for Enhanced STAR and recipients under this program already verify their information with the state annually.
The fastest way for homeowners to re-register for Basic STAR is through the Tax Department’s website at www.tax.ny.gov
All you need is the property owner(s) social security number(s), and the STAR code. If you don’t know your STAR code, there is a convenient “look up” page that will provide visitors with their unique STAR code.
Once completed, applicants can print their application which contains a confirmation code and file with your records.
You may also call the tax department at 518-457-2036 and an operator will assist callers. The state is expected to send out a mailing with instructions as well.
At this time, they are not providing a paper option to re-register. This is a one-time requirement and will not need to be repeated each year. If you have further questions about the program, you may also contact your local assessor.
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My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by email at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
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