As the STAR program continues to provide vital tax relief to homeowners across the state, new provisions have been made to make the program even more effective – however, Basic STAR recipients must remember to take action so they don’t miss out on future savings.
To ensure taxpayers are protected from inappropriate or fraudulent STAR exemptions, all homeowners receiving the Basic STAR benefit (available on the primary residence of homeowners who earn less than $500,000) need to register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to continue receiving exemptions in 2014 and subsequent years. Registration begins Aug. 19 and continues through Dec. 31. The tax department will mail instructions – including a STAR code necessary for registration – to all homeowners who currently receive the Basic STAR exemption. While this registration is required to receive your exemption, homeowners will not need to re-register every year.
Seniors who receive Enhanced STAR will be exempt from the new requirements and will not need to register to continue participation in the program. Enhanced STAR recipients must continue to apply annually, or participate in the Income Verification Program like they have in the past. Additionally, first-time applicants are not affected by this year’s registration procedure and must file Form RP-425, Application for School Tax Relief Exemption, with their local assessor.
This new requirement was included in the 2013-14 State Budget to help improve the program and safeguard taxpayer money. Improper STAR exemptions cost New Yorkers an estimated $13 million in 2010-11, and that could increase to $73 million by 2015-16.1 To support the registration effort and to discourage fraud and abuse of STAR, individual fines and penalties were incorporated into the program for intentional misinformation and if the exemption is revoked.
The fastest and easiest way for homeowners to register starting Aug. 19 is through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s website at www.tax.ny.gov. Registration and support is also available over the phone by calling 518-457-2036.