Letter: STAR program re-registration required

To the Editor,
Attention Westchester taxpayers. All homeowners in New York State who currently receive a reduction in school taxes through the STAR program will be required to re-register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance by this Dec. 31 in order to continue receiving their basic STAR exemption benefits for 2014 and beyond.

Westchester County homeowners will receive information in the mail between Sept. 14 and Oct. 4 that will provide instructions for on-line re-registration, including a code needed to register. All homeowners are eligible for basic STAR exemption on their primary residence only, assuming they have a household income of less than $500,000. This re-registration procedure is mandatory by Dec. 31 of this year; loss of basic STAR benefits amounts to a significant increase in a homeowner’s local school tax bill if they fail to register by the deadline date. This is expected to be a one-time re-registration for those receiving basic STAR benefits.

Seniors receiving enhanced STAR benefits must continue their existing procedure of annual income verification conducted through their local town or city assessor’s office.

A recent audit found that individuals were defrauding the STAR program by accepting benefits to which they were not entitled, costing New York State taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. The re-registration requirement is expected to weed out false or improper claims.

If any resident wishes to learn more about the program, they can call my district office at 914-934-5250.

George Latimer,
New York state senator, 37th District