As the law stands now, the tax roles are finalized as of July 1 every year including any STAR exemptions. This enables school districts to establish a tax rate based on the taxable value of a district, and then send out tax bills in August, which are due in September. Should the application extension go into effect, the taxable value of the district would change as late as January and districts would have to credit or refund monies to taxpayers. And it's a time consuming process for all four entities, Golden said. The paperwork has to be corrected in the assessor's office, then sent to the county for approval, then to the district for approval and finally to the tax receiver's office who reissues the bill.
While the school districts are supposed to be reimbursed by the state, the refund isn't guaranteed as was evident with this year's budget and the shortfall many school districts faced.
There is a loophole. The text of the bill allows local government to choose whether to adopt the law. Golden said as long as municipalities see the big picture, the extra trouble can be avoided. In fact, it might be better for municipalities to be proactive in ensuring senior citizens receive enhanced STAR. Golden's office currently sends out renewal applications to eligible residents in the fall, then follows up with reminder letters in January to those who haven't submitted their application.
"Giving everyone extra time to file is a good thing until you look at the big picture and the problems it will create," Golden said. "You wonder what they were thinking in Albany."
The bill was sent to the New York State Assembly, who referred it to real property taxation.