A large number of local residents still haven't re-upped their registration in a state school tax exemption program.
Legislation passed this year in Albany requires homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption to register with the state by the end of the year to get the exemption in 2014 and subsequent years.
The exemption is available on the primary residence of homeowners with incomes under $500,000. The state launched the registration program after a state Department of Taxation and Finance investigation found thousands of taxpayers were receiving STAR exemptions on more than one property.
Nearly 2.7 million homeowners claimed the Basic STAR exemption last year, but roughly 900,000 had yet to register as of Nov. 15, according to the tax department. A county-by-county breakdown on the agency's website shows 64 percent of Essex County residents who currently have Basic STAR had registered to continue their exemption as of Tuesday. Seventy-two percent of Franklin County residents who get the tax break had registered by the same date.
St. Armand Supervisor Charlie Whitson urged his residents who haven't signed up for Basic STAR to do so by Dec. 31. Fifty-nine percent of the Essex County town's residents had registered as of Tuesday, the lowest rate in the Enterprise's coverage area.
"If they don't re-register, they will automatically be dropped," Whitson said Friday. "It's not going to be an automatic carry-over. I just want to make sure we get the notice out to the public so they don't come up on the short end of the stick. With only a (59) percent return in St. Armand, that's not a good sign."
By the Numbers
Percentage of homeowners in area towns who've re-registered for the Basic STAR tax exemption, as of Nov. 19
(Source: New York State Department of Taxation and Finance)
Essex County Real Property Tax Services Director Charli Lewis said the state recently mailed cards to people who haven't registered, but many still haven't responded.
"The deadline is December 31st, so it's really imperative that people register by then," she said.
Homeowners who still need to register for Basic STAR can call the tax department at 518-457-2036 or go to www.tax.ny.gov. The state says online registration takes an average of two to four minutes to complete.
Senior citizens receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption are not impacted by the new registration program.