ALBANY, NY — Some 2.6 million homeowners in New York State receive the Basic STAR property tax exemption to help reduce the cost of school property taxes, and the average benefit per household is $700.
From August through December 31, the state is accepting new registrations from taxpayers for the Basic STAR program; if taxpayers wish to receive the Basic STAR exemption in 2014 and beyond, registration is mandatory.
State officials say the reason for the registration is to prevent fraud in the STAR program. The initiative follows an investigation by the state tax department, which found that some homeowners were receiving the exemption on more than one home; the exemption is available only for a family or individual’s primary residence where the household income is less than $500,000.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said of the registration initiative, “This balanced approach protects the integrity of the STAR program and guards taxpayer dollars from those who seek to game the system. The registration program provides an accessible, convenient and secure way for qualified homeowners to retain their exemption.”
“Local assessors monitor Basic STAR in their communities, but do not have the ability to know if an individual is receiving STAR in any of the other 1,000 localities statewide,” said commissioner of taxation and finance Thomas H. Mattox. “This is the first registration in the STAR Program’s 15-year history, and it will eliminate inappropriate and fraudulent exemptions.”
As part of the registration process, the tax department is sending letters to all 2.6 million participants in the Basic STAR Program. The letter will include a code, which the taxpayer will need to know in order to successfully register.
The tax department says the fastest and easiest way for homeowners to register is through the department’s website, www.tax.ny.gov . In addition to being included in the instructions that were mailed to them, homeowners will be able to find their STAR code through an online lookup, or by calling the tax department at 518/457-2036. Registration is also available via telephone at the same number.
Homeowners will not be required to reapply after 2014.
The registration applies only to Basic STAR recipients. Senior citizens receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption are not affected. In order to continue receiving Enhanced STAR, seniors must continue to apply annually or participate in the Income Verification Program. Basic Star exempts the first $30,000 in value of a home from school taxes and Enhanced STAR exempts the first $63,000 in value from the tax.
The state is holding registration events in every county. In Sullivan County, there will be a STAR registration event at the Town of Delaware Town Hall in Hortonville, NY on September 11 at 7 p.m. There will also be an event at the government center in Monticello on September 19 at 2 p.m.
In Ulster County there will be a registration event on September 24 at the county office building in Kingston.
In Orange County an event will be held on September 5 at 3:30 p.m. at the emergency management center in Goshen, and another event will be held on September 26 at the Walkill Town Hall.