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Tax Department Launches Statewide STAR Registration

On Thursday, the New York State Tax Department unveiled an easy, fast and secure online STAR Registration platform for homeowners currently receiving the Basic STAR property tax exemption. The system will facilitate Governor Cuomo's 2013-14 budget initiative to save New York taxpayers millions by eliminating inappropriate STAR property tax exemptions.

The STAR program provides 2.6 million homeowners with savings on their school property tax bills each year, but is only available for an individual's or family's primary residence. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's initiative follows a Tax Department investigation that showed some homeowners were receiving exemptions 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," Cuomo said. "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," said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. "This is the first registration in the STAR Program's 15-year history and it will eliminate inappropriate and fraudulent exemptions."

Easy Registration Online or by Phone

The Tax Department is mailing letters to all Basic STAR recipients. The letter includes registration instructions for the Department's online application. Homeowners can ask questions or register via telephone at 518-457-2036.

The deadline for completing the registration is December 31, 2013.

Letters are being delivered to all Basic STAR recipients in the following Central New York counties this week: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Tioga and Tompkins. The statewide mailing schedule is available online.

Click here for statewide mailing schedule

Senior Citizens Receiving Enhanced STAR Not Impacted

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.

Click here for Income Verification Program

Eligibility for Basic STAR

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 only eligible to receive 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.

Registration Affects Exemptions in 2014 and Beyond

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.

© 2013 Sanders Thaler Viola & Katz, LLP- Certified Public Accountants and Advisors - New York
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