OSWEGO – Debra Mullenax, director of the Oswego County Real Property Tax Service, reminds property owners that they have until Dec. 31 to apply for the School Tax Relief (STAR) property tax exemption.
“Homeowners can apply for free and those who need assistance may call or stop in our office for help,” said Mullenax.
The Real Property Tax Office will be open until 7 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26, to assist taxpayers in enrolling in the STAR program.
The office is located on the second floor of the County Office Building at 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego.
Visitors may also stop by anytime during regular office hours, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., or call the office at 349-8315, for assistance.
“STAR exemptions are funded by New York State to help reduce the taxpayer’s school taxes on their primary residence,” said County Legislator Terry Wilbur, District 21, Hannibal, chairman of the Legislature’s Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee.
As of mid-November, only 67 percent of Oswego County homeowners who were receiving the BASIC STAR exemption had registered with the Department of Taxation.
“To be eligible for the STAR program, the property must be the primary residence of the homeowner,” said Legislator Wilbur. “Despite that requirement, a Tax Department study last year found that thousands of owners of multiple properties were receiving multiple STAR exemptions. In order to eliminate duplication and fraud in the STAR Program, homeowners who are already receiving the basic STAR exemption are required to register with the New York State Tax Department this year. If you do not re-register your STAR exemption with the Department of Taxation, you will lose your exemption. The taxation department will send the assessor a list of those not registered and they will be removed.”
There are two types of STAR exemptions: Basic STAR for homeowners with incomes under $500,000 and Enhanced STAR for senior citizens with incomes in 2012 under $81,900.
A new homeowner who has never registered for the STAR program or who has moved to a new primary residence, needs to file a new STAR exemption form with their assessor.
The deadline to file for a new STAR exemption is March 1, 2014.
Seniors who receive the Enhanced STAR will still apply to their assessor.
Mullenax said that property owners should be wary of solicitations from firms who charge a fee to apply for the school tax exemption.
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that some homeowners have received letters offering to enroll them in the STAR Program for a substantial fee, equivalent to the full amount of the taxpayer’s first year savings, which averages $700 statewide.
“New Yorkers should not be fooled: registration to the STAR program is free, convenient, and provides taxpayers with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars in property tax relief each year,” Governor Cuomo said. “I encourage any homeowner not receiving a STAR exemption to apply on their own and avoid disingenuous schemes that seek to charge you for the tax relief that is rightfully yours.”
Homeowners may register online at www.tax.ny.gov, or register by phone by calling 518-457-2036.
Additional information and a link to the tax department website may be found on the Oswego County website at www.oswegocounty.com
The Legislature’s Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee oversees the Real Property Tax Office.
In addition to Legislator Wilbur, members include legislators Jay Martino, vice chairman, District 6, Hastings; Shane Broadwell, District 17, Oswego; David Holst, District 4, Amboy; Jacob Mulcahey, District 15, Oswego; James Oldenburg, District 14, Oswego; and Milferd Potter, District 2, Orwell.
For more information, call the Real Property Tax Office weekdays at 349-8315.