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Deadline to apply for STAR exemptions is today

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MASSENA - With the deadline to reapply for Basic STAR exemptions today, Massena Assessor Michael C. Ward said there are still many property owners who have yet to apply for this benefit.

“We did have about 20 percent who hadn’t signed up, but I know over the last couple of weeks that number has gone down quite a bit,” Mr. Ward said, adding the town of Massena contains 2,332 STAR eligible properties.

Mr. Ward said that each homeowner shoudl have received two letters in the mail from the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance, with those who have not yet signed up also receiving phone calls from the state remining them to do so.

“A Basic STAR exemption is available to anone who owns a property and resides in it as their primary residence,” Mr. Ward said.

In the past homeowners would only have to register for the exemption once, but according to literature from the DoTF the state decided to have everyone reapply this year as part of an effort to reduce fraud that existed within the program, with some property owners receiving multiple STAR exemptions.

Once this reapplication processis complete, property owners should continue receiving their exemption on an annual basis.

Mr. Ward explained the Basic STAR exemption exempts the first $30,000 of a homeowner’s assessment from being taxed for school tax purposes.

“If you have a $30,000 home, you wouldn’t pay any school taxes and if you had a $60,000 home, you would only pay taxes on $30,000 of that.”

Given the Massena Central School District’s 2013-2014 tax rate of approximately $19.62 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the savings are significant. While the rate does vary for residents of different towns within the school district, using the average rate as an example, one would see savings of $588.60.

“It takes a good chunk off your tax bill,” Mr. Ward said, adding the form may be completed online at www.tax.ny.gov or over the phone by calling (518) 457-2036.

Mr. Ward also said it is important to note that the reapplication process only applies to those seeking the Basic STAR exemptions. Recipients of Enhanced STAR, a similiar program for senior citizens, still have until March 1 to apply for their exemption.

When asked what he thought would happen for people who don’t reapply, he said he’s not 100 percent certain.

“I think what will happen is we’ll get a list of the people who didn’t sign up, and we’ll be told to take off their STAR exemptions,” he said. “There is a corrections process, but we’re not sure yet what that’s going to entail.”

Mr. Ward said he’s already planning on hearing complaints when people who didn’t reapply get their tax bills.

“People will say they didn’t know, but how can they say that? They got two letters, and it’s been all over the TV and newspapers,” he said. “If I got a letter from the New York state Department of Taxation, I think I would read it.”

On the web:

www.tax.ny.gov

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