The STAR Exemption has helped homeowners save hundreds of dollars for years, but now the state is asking taxpayers to re-register to make sure they keep getting the exemption. People have until the end of the year to file and those who don't could lose out. Our Sarah Blazonis explains the reason for the change.
NEW YORK STATE -- Talking taxes wasn't what Robin Colbert expected to do during her visit to the State Fair, but when she found out she could re-register for the STAR Exemption, she knew she had to get in line.
"We're on limited income, so it's great. It's like all of a sudden there's a bonus, you know? You can pay something off or get something extra," said Colbert, a Lyons resident.
The average homeowner saves $700 a year on the school district tax exemption.
This is the first re-registration in the rebate's 15 year history and the Taxation and Finance Department's booth at the State Fair has been busy helping people who don't want to miss out on those savings.
"Before the building even opened at 9:30 and every morning has been the same. Staff from the fair and other staffed booths are coming over to re-register for STAR," said Camille Siano Enders, a taxpayer rights advocate with the Taxation and Finance Dept.
Property owners are only supposed to get the exemption on their main residence and officials say the main reason for the re-registration is because some were doubling up on the benefit.
"Local assessors really don't have the ability to look across the more than 1,000 municipalities to see whether someone has, in fact, taken more than one exemption," said NYS Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas Mattox.
Homeowners likely won't see a change in the amount they get back each year, but state taxpayers could see a big savings overall.
"If one in 100 STAR exemptions is inappropriate out there, that's $18 million each year that we will save through this registration program and that's just if it's one percent," said Taxation and Finance Dept. Public Information Director Geoffrey Gloak.
Officials urge people not to put off re-registering until the December 31st deadline. Those who miss the deadline will either lose those savings or have to go through an appeal process.
Seniors who qualify for the Enhanced STAR Exemption do not have to take part in the re-registration.
Representatives from the Taxation and Finance Department will be in the Center of Progress building throughout the Fair to help those who need to take part.
There are also several public outreach events planned to help or you can register online atwww.tax.ny.gov.