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November 13, 2013

Follow your STAR to get tax relief

If you’re a homeowner and you’re considering whether to apply for a New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) property tax exemption … stop considering and apply already.

Why?

Because if you don’t, it will cost you money, that’s why.

You are probably already saving the money this year, but if want to keep saving in 2014 and beyond, you’ll have to register with the tax department.

It’s so easy.

If you have access to a computer and the Internet, registration takes less than four minutes and can be done from the Tax Department’s website at www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star. Homeowners without Internet access should call (518) 457-2036 to register.

There are two types of exemptions. The first is the Basic STAR, which most homeowners can claim. It’s available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners’ and their spouses’ income is less than $500,000, and it exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes.

The Enhanced STAR is available for the primary residences of senior citizens age 65 and older with qualifying incomes. Enhanced STAR exempts the first $64,200 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2014-15 school tax bills (up from $63,300 in 2013-14).

According to the state website, STAR exemptions apply only to school district taxes. Here in the local area, they don’t apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city. 

There’s no fee to register. It’s totally free, and don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you different. Unfortunately, there will always be swindlers who will attempt to take advantage of people who aren’t familiar with a procedure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office put out a news release Thursday warning taxpayers. It seems some new homeowners have received letters asking for a lot of money to enroll them in the STAR program.

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