Press-Republican

September 27, 2013

Editorial: STAR signup simple, crucial

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Press-Republican

---- — The state is taking action to make sure that people aren’t getting tax exemptions that they don’t deserve. But if you don’t do your part, you may lose your tax break.

The Basic STAR exemption gives property owners with a combined income of $500,000 or less a break on school taxes on their primary residence.

But state officials believe that more people than should were also getting tax discounts on secondary property.

The solution devised by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was essentially to wipe the slates clean and have everyone re-register. Through that process, the state expects to weed out owners who are getting breaks they don’t deserve.

The state expects to puff up its coffers with taxes that were supposed to paid all along. That makes the new registration plan a worthwhile endeavor. Taxation that is spread out fairly is the aim of government.

It is troublesome, though, to think that deserving property owners might not get a tax break they deserve just because they didn’t sign up in time. Personal initiative is required, and some people are bound to ignore the process for fear that it is too time-consuming or complicated.

We can assure you that is not the case. Our editor and her husband re-registered their property online recently and found it easy to accomplish. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.

Property owners should have, by now, received a letter in the mail explaining what to do.

With the letter in hand, go to the website www.tax.ny.gov. On the right-hand side, you will see the words “Register for STAR.” Click “Learn more.”

That brings you to a short information page. Read it, and click “Register online.”

You will be asked to retype a security code that is shown. After that, all you have to do is answer a few questions.

You will be asked for your STAR code, which is on the upper right of your letter.

Next, give the names and Social Security numbers for all owners of the property and spouses.

Then, confirm that the property is the primary residence of one of its owners.

After that, confirm that the combined income of the owners and their spouses doesn’t exceed $500,000.

The final question asks if one of the owners already received a residency-based tax benefit from another state.

If you don’t have computer access or find working online difficult, no problem. Just call 457-2036 from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

(People age 65 and up who get Enhanced STAR don’t have to do any of this. They register each year for that bigger school-tax discount.)

It’s simple to re-register, and it will likely save you hundreds of dollars in taxes. So don’t wait until close to the Dec. 31 deadline. Go register right now.