ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County supervisors are looking for ways to make it easier for homeowners who get a STAR school tax exemption to register this fall.
Everyone who currently gets the Basic STAR exemption, which lets homeowners in New York state with incomes less than $500,000 get the first $30,000 of their home's value exempt from school taxes, will need to re-register for the exemption, Charli Lewis, director of the county's Real Property Tax Services, told the county Board of Supervisors Monday.
Lewis said she sat in on a webinar on the process earlier this month and provided supervisors with a PowerPoint presentation on it.
More than 2.6 million Basic STAR recipients across the state will need to re-register. The purpose is to make sure that only people eligible for the exemption will get it and to eliminate intentional fraud and unintentional duplicate exemptions.
The state will send out a code to each person who needs to register. Essex County residents are scheduled to get theirs between Sept. 2 and Sept. 6, Lewis said.
With those codes, property owners can go to the state Department of Taxation and Finance website, www.tax.ny.gov, and register. They will be asked to list their spouse's name, even if it's not on the deed, the physical address of any other properties they own, and income information to ensure they make less than $500,000.
Property owners will have until Dec. 1 to register, Lewis said. Anyone who hasn't by then will get another notice from the state and will have until Dec. 31. Then final notices will go to anyone who hasn't registered, and they will have until March 1. At that point, the list of who has and hasn't registered will go to local assessors, and they can reach out to property owners until their assessment rolls are completed.
If a homeowner misses all those deadlines, he or she will be allowed for one year to appeal to the DTF - not their local assessors - for a late registration. Lewis said she's not sure how that will work, but people will probably be able to get refunds if they are granted appeals, she said.
Elizabethtown town Supervisor Margaret Bartley said she's concerned because her town has many people who don't have Internet access. There's a computer they can use at the town hall, though, and she said she would like to get a volunteer to help seniors who aren't computer savvy to register there.
Lewis noted that most seniors won't have to participate in this process, but she said people from her office could help.
"I think we're going to have to really reach out to make sure," Lewis said.
Board Chairman Randy Douglas said he likes Bartley's idea, and he will try to do something like that in Jay as well.
Lewis noted that this is different from the Enhanced STAR exemption, which applies to senior citizens with qualifying income levels. People who get that exemption won't have to do anything different than normal; they already have to register for the exemption each year.
New homeowners looking to apply for Basic STAR for the first time will also follow the normal procedure, filling out paperwork with their local assessment office, Lewis said.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.