By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A change in administration of the School Tax Relief Exemption program means all Basic STAR recipients must reapply by March 1, 2014.
Plattsburgh Town Assessor Brian Dowling said the Basic STAR program will be administered by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance starting in 2014.
The legislation that led to the change came after an audit of the program found inappropriate or fraudulent exemptions.
Dowling said the Department of Taxation and Finance is expected to send homeowners information on the new procedure.
“Do nothing now,” he said.
ONLY SCHOOL TAXES
This is expected to be a one-time re-registration, Dowling said. Once in the system, homeowners receive the exemption automatically unless they no longer meet eligibility requirements.
The new requirement doesn’t apply to those who qualify for Enhanced STAR benefits. Those people do still need to apply annually to verify their income level or participate in the STAR Income Verification Program.
The latter allows homeowners to authorize the Department of Taxation and Finance to verify their income eligibility every year.
According to the Department of Taxation and Finance website, STAR exemptions apply only to school district taxes.
Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners and their spouses bring in income that is less than $500,000. It exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a property from school taxes.
Enhanced STAR provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of those age 65 and older with qualifying incomes. It exempts the first $63,300 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2013-14 school tax bills, up from $62,200 in 2012-13.
The change comes with increased penalties and fees. The penalty for intentionally providing misinformation to an assessor will increase from $100 to as much as $2,500.
The number of years a taxpayer must repay inappropriate STAR benefits will increase from three to as many as six years. In addition, taxpayers whose STAR exemption is revoked will be unable to receive the exception for six years after the revocation.
An additional $500 processing fee will be imposed whenever an inappropriate exemption granted after April 1, 2013, is revoked.
The processing fees and penalties will be retained by local governments, while the state will recover the value of the STAR benefits provided to ineligible taxpayers.
Those with questions about the new registration program are asked to call 457-2036 or visit the Star program page at www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star13.htm.
Email Dan Heath:email@example.com