STAR Application Deadline Approaches

Property owners who haven’t applied for New York state’s school tax relief program, commonly known as STAR, are missing out on rightful savings.

Of eligible applicants, 23 percent of homeowners in Chautauqua County still have not applied for the program compared with 30 percent statewide.

The registration deadline is Dec. 31.

“I would encourage people to timely register before the holiday rush,” said Steve Abdella, acting Chautauqua County executive. “You forget about it, but it’s quite a savings and you don’t want to miss out.”

In Chautauqua County, 5,919 properties are still unregistered; 912 in Jamestown and 388 in Dunkirk.

While there are two types of STAR exemptions, the average New York property owner saves approximately $700 annually.

“Make sure you’re current and up to date,” said Vince Horrigan, county executive-elect. “It’ll be important to gain this school tax exemption.”

Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the owner and their spouse’s incomes total less than $500,000. The program exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes.

Enhanced STAR provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens aged 65 and older with qualifying incomes and 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).

For the 2013-14 exemption period, Jamestown property owners saw a savings of $604 under the basic program. Qualified registrants under the enhanced program saw a savings of $1,231.

Exemptions apply only to school district taxes. They don’t apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in cities where city property taxes fund schools including Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers).

The tax relief program was created 15 years ago.

A February study performed by Thomas DiNapoli, state comptroller, found tens of thousands of homeowners receiving STAR on more than one residence. Gov. Andrew Cuomo then directed the tax department to develop a simple process for homeowners to continue receiving their rightful relief, while eliminating fraud and waste in the program.

Property owners are eligible for one exemption for a primary residence only.

To register, visit www.tax.ny.gov or call 518-457-2036.