Tuesday , June 18 2019
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State Announces Check-Based School Tax Exemption Program

New Homeowners Note JULY 1 Deadline

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is changing the STAR school tax exemption program to a check-based program for all new homeowners.

People who purchased their home after March 1, 2015 are now required to register with the state for the school tax credit. If you qualify, you will receive a check in the mail (instead of a property tax exemption on your school tax bill which has been the process in the past). Most checks should be received at around the same time as your school tax bill arrives in the mail.

Again, this new check program applies to NEW homeowners only.

You do not need to take any action if you already have a STAR exemption, as long as you stay in your current home.

As the Cattaraugus County Department of Real Property Tax explains:

If you purchased your home after March 2, 2015, you are not eligible for the STAR exemption program, but you may register with New York State for the Check program.

• If you are one of these new homeowners and you applied with the local assessor for a STAR exemption, you will receive a letter with instructions for registering with the State for the Check program.  These letters should be out by late May or early June.

• Those who register prior to July 1, and who meet the eligibility requirements (same as the requirements for the STAR exemption), the State intends to have checks mailed by mid-September.

• Those who register after July 1 will still get a check, but not by mid-September (so make sure to register before July 1).

• Checks will be in the amount of the STAR savings you would have received on your school tax bill had you been eligible for the STAR exemption program.

• Once you are registered with New York State for the Check program, you will not need to register again, unless your eligibility changes.  The state will send your check automatically each year.

• The registration process is made through an on-line application OR by telephone.  Online details can be found here – https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/register-for-star-credit.htm. The phone number is (518) 457-2036.

• If you have a mortgage on your new home, and your taxes are paid through escrow, you may want to contact your escrow company to see how your mortgage payments are calculated (STAR exemption considered or not).

Going forward, no new STAR exemptions will be granted. If you buy a new home, you will have to register with New York State for the Check program.

If you currently qualify for “Basic STAR” you do not need to take any action. If you receive an “Enhanced STAR” exemption (for those 65 and older), you must continue to apply annually with your local assessor, or you may enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP).

The county also points out that if you are in the STAR exemption program, you may opt for the Check program for future years, but you cannot have both and you cannot get back into the STAR program if you change your mind. Cattaraugus County Real Property Tax Services recommends that you stay in the STAR exemption program. This is the easier of the two options for now.

This legislation does not affect any other property tax exemptions administered by your local assessor, such as exemptions for Veterans, Low Income Seniors, Agriculture, etc.

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