ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning taxpayers to beware of solicitations offering a fee-based service to apply for the School Tax Relief property-tax exemption.
Homeowners can apply for free, so they don’t need to pay anyone to register them.
The Governor’s Office said some new homeowners have received letters offering to enroll them in the STAR Program for a fee equivalent to the full amount of the taxpayers’ first-year savings, which averages $700 statewide and can be as high as $3,000 for senior citizens in the Lower Hudson Valley and on Long Island.
“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,” Cuomo said in the release.
“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.”
STAR programs are the only New York state-funded property-tax exemptions. There are two programs: Basic STAR, for homeowners with incomes under $500,000; and Enhanced STAR, for senior citizens with incomes under $81,900.
The deadline to register for the STAR Program is Dec. 31.
To apply, homeowners should submit an application to their local assessor’s office. New York City has a separate form, which homeowners can request by calling 311 if they do not have Internet access.
In order to eliminate waste and fraud in the STAR Program, homeowners who are already receiving the Basic STAR exemption are required to register with New York State Tax Department this year.
To be eligible for the STAR Program, the property must be the primary residence of the owners.
Online registration for people receiving Basic STAR takes less than four minutes and can be done from the Tax Department’s website: www.tax.ny.gov.
Homeowners without Internet access should call 457-2036 to register.