Residents must reapply to receive tax relief on school tax bills
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, chair of the Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee, announced the 2013-14 New York state budget includes changes that will require current Basic STAR (School Tax Relief) recipients to re-register in order to continue receiving their exemptions. Under the new plan, taxpayers will register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The updates are part of an effort to eliminate wasteful spending on inappropriate STAR exemptions.
Basic STAR exemptions applied to New Yorkers’ school tax bills are available only for a taxpayer’s primary residence.
“Recently there have been instances where owners of property have double-dipped and have received exemptions on multiple properties,” stated Galef. “This is against the law. The STAR Program has been in existence since 1998 and needs to require periodic renewals by property owners so that abuses such as double-dipping do not take place. These new rules should correct the problem and assure that the STAR program has the financial resources to continue to help taxpayers.”
The New York State Comptroller reported earlier this year that improper exemptions cost the state $13 million in the 2011-12 year and might exceed $73 million by 2015-16.
The state budget includes the following changes to the Basic STAR Program:
STAR Re-Registration Program
- Owners of property that received the basic STAR exemption for the 2012-13 school year must re-register with the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Tax and Finance.
- The commissioner will provide written notification of the registration requirement to owners at least 60 days before the registration deadline.
- The commissioner may reinstate re-registration requirements in the future but cannot require registered STAR recipients to re-register more than once in a three-year period if their primary address has not changed.
- An administrative process is established for taxpayers who fail to submit their re-register paperwork by the established deadline, or who wish to appeal decisions of the department.
STAR revocation and penalty
The new law establishes a number of provisions aimed at discouraging fraudulent exemptions, which will include repayment of the full amount of inappropriately claimed exemptions and other fines and penalties. However, Galef noted the Assembly fought to keep the penalties in line with the objective of the program, which focuses primarily on eliminating unnecessary mistakes and fraud going forward.
“These changes do not impact the Enhanced STAR program for seniors 65 and over. Senior citizens have been required to meet an economic threshold of $74,100 or less and prove this threshold each year to receive the Enhanced STAR tax relief,” concluded Galef.
Taxpayers seeking additional information about changes to the STAR program should contact the Tax Department at 518-457-2036 or visit their website at tax.ny.gov.