School tax relief available for Franklin County seniors
MALONE — Tammie Brooks from Franklin County Real Property Tax Services addressed lawmakers prior at their regular meeting Thursday at the courthouse and informed them of a change in state law that makes it mandatory for municipalities to ensure residents are made aware of the senior School Tax Relief (STAR) credit.
She presented several possible solutions, including hiring an outside firm to print and mail notifications, or completing the job in house.
“We have to let everybody know on the tax bills where to contact if they were eligible for STAR exemptions or senior STAR exemptions,” Brooks told legislators. “However, in this new law they’re asking that we send a second notice 30 days prior to taxable status date, which would be March 1, to all residential homes.”
STAR is the New York State School Tax Relief program that provides an exemption from school property taxes for owner-occupied, primary residences. This state-financed exemption is authorized by section 425 of the Real Property Tax Law, according to nyassembly.gov.
The state senate amended Real Property Tax Law in March 2022 in an effort to ensure seniors, defined as anyone 65 and older, are aware of exemptions available to them and the deadlines to apply for those exemptions.
“Property owners 65 years of age or older may be eligible for senior citizen tax exemptions on their primary residence,” a notice released by the county Friday reads. “Senior citizens have until March 1 to apply for such exemptions with the submission of renewal applications being required annually.”
Anyone who wishes to take advantage of the STAR exemption is required to register with the New York State Tax Department at tax.ny.gov/star, which can be completed at any time of day. People who lack internet access can register by phone at 518-457-2036 on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Anyone who owns their home, lists it as their primary residence, and makes less than $500,000 per year is eligible for the credit, while seniors who make less than $93,000 may be eligible for the enhanced STAR credit.
Brooks offered three possible solutions: completing the notices in house at a cost of $12,947.96; through Applied Business Solutions at a cost of $8,077.41; or attaching the notice to tax bills and utilizing local media to make area residents aware of the exemption.
Brooks and legislators agreed the third option was the most cost-effective solution, and also decided to reach out to area municipalities and encourage them to add the notice to newsletters.
“Would you be able to give us the information that people should be getting?” Legislator Justus Martin, R-Bombay, asked. “We could take that to our town supervisors and have them put it in their newsletters and on Facebook. People might see that more than another card coming in the mail. I think there’s ways we can get the word out.”
Brooks said her office has pamphlets explaining the STAR exemption and how to apply for it.
“Specifically, in addition to the pamphlet, please send us a short, couple sentences, about what you would want inserted into a town newsletter.”
For more information, seniors are encouraged to contact their local tax assessor or Franklin County Real Property at 518-481-1600 or via email at email@example.com.