New York State is gearing up to send municipalities another unfunded mandate, one that could cause some serious problems for school districts.
The Senate recently passed Legislation (S.3576), which would extend the deadlines for basic and enhanced School Tax Relief (STAR) discounts. The intent is to make it easier for property owners to claim STAR benefits if they miss the March 1 filing deadlines, especially senior citizens who must remember to file for the enhanced STAR exemption each year.
According to the NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services website (orps.state.ny.us), STAR provides New York homeowners with partial exemptions from school property taxes. Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences with qualifying income and exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. Enhanced STAR provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes exempting the first $60,100 of the full value of their home from school taxes.
"In this difficult economic time, we need to ensure that those who are eligible for the STAR exemptions receive those benefits even if they miss the deadline," said Sen. Jack M. Martins, a supporter of the bill. "These exemptions are extremely important to many of our residents."
Should the application deadline be missed, it could result in a homeowner facing an unexpected and significantly increased tax bill. This bill instead authorizes municipalities to accept STAR applications after the locality's taxable status date and before Jan. 10 of the following year.
While this bill would help residents who fail to file the STAR application by March 1, it seems it would cause more problems than benefits.
According to Theresa Golden, assessor for the towns of Van Buren and Lysander, the extended deadline would create a lot more work not only for assessors' offices across the state, but for municipal tax receivers' offices, counties and school districts in New York.