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Save Money on Property Tax

Register for 2014 STAR Exemptions by Dec. 31

By Eva Potter

If you are a homeowner, there is a tax-saving opportunity you won’t want to miss.

If you own a house, condominium, cooperative apartment, manufactured home, farmhouse, mixed-use property (including apartment buildings, but only the owner-occupied portion) and it is your primary residence, then you may be eligible for Basic or Enhanced STAR (School Tax Relief) exemptions.

This fall, the New York State Tax Department passed new legislation requiring all homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption to register with the State. This initiative was instituted to protect New Yorkers against inappropriate or fraudulent STAR exemptions.

By now, homeowners should have received their Basic STAR exemption letters from the New York State Department of Taxation with their unique STAR code. The letter also included application instructions for Basic STAR for 2014 and subsequent years.

Most STAR recipients save several hundred dollars annually based on their property’s assessed value. Exemptions may vary based on property location, a recent municipality reassessment, the level of assessment of the individual municipality and the annual adjustment based on the rate of inflation (Enhanced STAR only).

In order to continue receive your STAR exemption, you are required to register before Dec. 31, 2013, if you are a resident homeowner and currently receive the Basic STAR exemption.  Homeowners will not need to register in order to receive their 2013 STAR exemptions. Once you register, you will be in the system and will not be required to reregister each year.

If you are applying for Basic STAR for the first time, you are not affected by this new registration procedure and will still use form RP-425 to be filed with your local assessor.

Seniors who already receive the Enhanced STAR exemption will need to continue to apply annually or participate in the Income Verification Program in order to continue receiving this annual exemption.

The register, go to the Tax Department’s website at www.tax.ny.gov using your STAR code. If you have lost your STAR code, you can retrieve it through an online lookup or by calling the Tax Department at (518) 457-2036. The online registration process will ask you a series of questions in order to process the application.

If you are unable to register online, call (518) 457-2036 during business hours (Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.).

The Tax Department will send homeowners additional reminder letters in December 2013 and January 2014.

Basic STAR has no age restriction and applicants must have an annual income of $500,000 or less. This income limit applies to the combined incomes of only the owners and owners’ spouses who reside at the property.

To qualify for Enhanced STAR, you must be age 65 or older. For jointly owned property, only one spouse or sibling must be at least 65 years by Dec. 31 of the year when the exemption will begin. The income limit is $81,900 and applies to all owners, and any owner’s spouse who resides at the property.

Income eligibility in 2014 is based on income information from the 2012 tax year. Income means federal “adjusted gross income” minus the “taxable amount” of total distributions from individual retirement accounts or individual retirement annuities (IRAs).

You will find special eligibility rules for seniors, residents of cooperative apartments, manufactured home parks, nursing homes, trusts and life estates at www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/special_eligibility.htm.

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