Posted at: 08/26/2013 8:55 AM
Updated at: 08/27/2013 2:08 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
If you own your home, you will soon be receiving a letter from the state tax department in the mail reminding you to sign up for the STAR tax exemption.
Homeowners and their spouses who make less than $500,000 a year are eligible for the annual cut on their school taxes.
Even if you received the tax exemption before, you will have to sign up again this year. The state is trying to make sure it isn’t giving out those tax exemptions to people who aren’t eligible after a couple audits found that some homeowners were, in a sense, double dipping. Essentially, the state needs to put together a database to weed out errors or abuse.
Letters are going out to more than half a million homeowners in Western New York this week reminding them to re-register for the basic STAR exemption.
The STAR exemption is only available for owner-occupied primary residences were the combined income of the owners if $500,000 or less. An audit earlier this year by the state comptroller found that people making more than that were getting exemptions and people were claiming exemptions on multiple homes, costing taxpayers $13-million in 2011.
An investigation by the Department of Taxation and Finance turned up similar problems but now seems poised to fix it.
We spoke with the state’s tax commissioner via satellite Monday afternoon. Thomas Mattox said, “Because it's a locally managed process, assessors really have no way of confirming that someone in their jurisdiction who is receiving an exemption is not receiving one in another of the more than 1,000 jurisdictions in New York State. So the registration process is designed to ensure we have an accurate listing of eligible property owners."
This only applies to basic STAR. Seniors receiving the enhanced STAR exemption are not affected by the registration.
To the average homeowner, the STAR exemption means a savings of about $700.