ALBANY — The New York State Tax Department has unveiled a secure online registration platform for homeowners currently receiving the Basic STAR property-tax exemption.
The system will facilitate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget initiative to save New York taxpayers millions by eliminating inappropriate STAR property-tax exemptions.
ONLY PRIMARY RESIDENCE
The STAR Program provides 2.6 million homeowners with savings on their school property-tax bills each year but is available only for an individual’s or family’s primary residence.
A State Tax Department investigation showed that some homeowners were receiving the exemption on more than one property.
“This balanced approach protects the integrity of the STAR program and guards taxpayer dollars from those who seek to game the system,” said Cuomo said in a news release.
“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,” Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox said in a statement.
“This is the first registration in the STAR Program’s 15-year history, and it will eliminate inappropriate and fraudulent exemptions.”
HOW TO REGISTER
The Tax Department is mailing letters to all 2.6 million Basic STAR recipients that includes registration instructions for the online application.
It also provides homeowners with a telephone number for registration or questions: (518) 457-2036.
The letters are going out to counties in central New York this week; homeowners in other areas will get theirs later.
The deadline for completing the registration is Dec. 31.
The registration applies only to Basic STAR recipients; senior citizens receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption are not impacted.
In order to continue receiving Enhanced STAR, seniors must continue to apply annually or participate in the Income Verification Program.
The Basic STAR exemption is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less.
Married couples with multiple residences are eligible to receive only one Basic STAR exemption.
The average homeowner benefit as a result of Basic STAR is $700 annually.
Statewide, total savings are nearly $1.9 billion each year. The Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions are the only property-tax exemptions reimbursed by New York state.
STARTS NEXT YEAR
The registration program will impact Basic STAR exemptions for 2014 and beyond; it does not impact 2013 exemptions.
Homeowners will not have to re-register every year. Based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners’ eligibility in future years.