Press-Republican

September 26, 2013

Deadline looms for basic STAR registration

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Town of Malone Assessor Amy Hewitt says her office has been inundated with property owners confused about re-registering for tax exemptions.

All New York property owners under 65 must re-register with the State Department of Taxation and Finance to qualify for basic STAR exemption in 2014 and beyond.

The average school-tax savings in Malone is about $440, Hewitt said.

Those 65 and older receive Enhanced STAR exemptions, so they do not have to sign up again to qualify.  

The state sent letters to 2.6 million property owners younger than 65, explaining what each had to do in order to qualify. But many didn’t read the letter or follow online or telephone-help directions.

Others may have thrown their letter away, thinking it was junk mail since each was addressed to “property owner” instead of an actual owner’s name, Hewitt said.

SIMPLE SIGNUP

Each letter includes a code to be typed into the Taxation Department’s web page and a short series of questions needs to be answered to register a home for the exemption.  

“All you need to know is the address, names and Social Security numbers of each person listed as an owner,” Hewitt said. “It’s simple.”

Those without a computer, or with limited confidence in their computer skills, can call 457-2036 or visit www.tax.ny.gov for help.

The telephone hotline is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

For those without a telephone or computer access, local libraries have public computers available for use as well as public phones to make a call, Hewitt said.

“We can’t really help you here,” she said of the Assessor’s Office.

RISK OF REMOVAL

Owners have until the end of the year to sign up, “but after that, they’re removed from the system,” she said, meaning that property will no longer enjoy a tax exemption.

And no one is sure yet how or if a property can be re-qualified for an exemption once it’s taken off the STAR program rolls.

“I don’t know if people will be given more time,” she said. “They haven’t told us that yet. And I don’t know if the state has decided what it is going to do.”

She said the Franklin County Assessors Association will be purchasing print advertisements to get the word out to those who are unaware of the steps they need to take to stay qualified for the program.

FINAL REMINDERS

Cynthia King of the Taxation and Finance Office gave a brief presentation to the County Legislature recently, explaining that the exemption, which has been offered in New York since 1999.

She said those who do not register will be sent reminder notices on Dec. 1, with Dec. 31 as the final deadline to comply.

On March 1, the state will give assessors a list of owners in their community who are no longer eligible for the STAR exemption.

If a name is removed, there is an appeal process through the state office, King said.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com