It’s New Year’s Eve. Have you registered for your Basic STAR tax break?
If you haven’t, you could pay hundreds of dollars more in school property taxes, because you’ll miss out on a tax break courtesy of the state. The deadline in Dec. 31.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance mailed homeowners their STAR registration code in October. If you don’t have it, don’t worry. You can re-register without it. Here’s how:
• Go to www.tax.ny.gov and click on “Last Day To Register for STAR.” You can use the “STAR Code Lookup” if you need your code. (They were mailed to Lower Hudson Valley households in mid to late October. Don’t worry if you didn’t save the card, it’s easy to get right on the site.) Once you get your code, can finish registering on this site.
The Basic STAR exemption can be used by homeowners with incomes below $500,000, and only for a primary residence. Rental properties and vacation homes don’t meet the requirements.
The registration process is super easy (really) and takes just minutes. You only need your address and the Social Security numbers of the homeowners to get your code and process the registration.
No need to grumble about the process, because it’s not only easy, it’s needed. Three separate probes of the STAR system turned up mistakes, misunderstandings, misuse and possible fraud.
Within the last year, the state Department of Taxation and Finance probe of records turned up 4,000 potential double-dippers; a New York State Comptroller’s audit estimated that lax oversight of STAR exemptions would cost New Yorkers up to $73 million by 2016; and a probe of STAR registrants in Rockland County district exposed more than 500 double-dippers getting around $679,000 in fraudulent school tax discounts.
Because the statewide registration will rely on Social Security numbers, it will provide, for the first time, an easy way to figure out someone’s getting more than one exemption.
Taxpayers who don’t register — or don’t qualify — would be stripped of their STAR benefits in March, when local assessors will update their rolls. The homeowners will feel the impact when school-tax bills go out in fall 2014.
A recent report by our Tax Watch team showed that about 19 percent of homeowners hadn’t yet registered; that also happens to be roughly the percentage of fraudulent STAR exemptions turned up by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s 2011 audit.
Don’t wait. If you qualify, claim your STAR exemption TODAY.