What You Need to Know About NYS’s Recent Changes to STAR (School Tax Assessment Relief)

New York State recently made several important changes to its STAR (School Tax Assessment Relief) program. These changes will impact many Nassau County homeowners seeking relief from high property tax bills. It’s important to know exactly what these changes are, and what you need to do to continue participating in these programs.  Please be aware that if you recently purchased your home and you paid the School tax for the 2019/20 tax year (rather than paid at closing) and you do not currently receive a STAR exemption or credit, you should register with New York State immediately to receive either Basic or Enhanced STAR here: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/default.htm.

Changes to Basic STAR
Currently, two types of STAR exemptions are in place: Basic STAR, available to all owner-occupants of primary residences, and Enhanced STAR, which is available to occupants of primary residences who are age 65 and older. While the maximum annual income eligibility requirement for Basic STAR remains unchanged at $500,000, what’s changed is that only those whose income is $250,000 or less will be able to continue to receive exemptions on their property tax bill. Those making between $250,000 and $500,000 will instead receive a check from New York State.

Homeowners who make less than $250,000 annually, and who currently receive the STAR exemption, have the opportunity to switch over to the STAR credit program. There are certain advantages to receiving a check instead of getting a traditional exemption for those whose annual income is less than $250,000. According to New York State, “Beginning in 2019, the value of the STAR credit savings may increase by as much as 2% each year, but the value of the STAR exemption savings cannot increase.” So, while it might be less convenient to receive a check than to have this amount deducted from your tax bill, in future years you may end up with more money in your pocket.  This applies to those receiving the Basic or Enhanced STAR credit.

Please be aware that those making between $250,000 and $500,000, who currently obtain the Basic STAR exemption, should expect a letter from the NYS Tax Department stating that they have been automatically registered for the Basic STAR credit. This letter will also state that NYS will mail your STAR credit check before the date of your school tax bill. If this letter does not arrive, or if you have other questions about Basic STAR, it’s best to contact the NYS Tax Department directly at 518-457-2036.

Because New York State is mailing out STAR credit checks on a rolling basis; if you want to see when you can expect to get one, go to the STAR Check Delivery Schedule page on the web site of the New  York State Department of Taxation and Finance here: https://www8.tax.ny.gov/SCDS/scdsStart

Changes to Enhanced STAR
An additional feature of registering for Basic STAR, as explained above, is that those already receiving the credit for Basic STAR will automatically be upgraded to Enhanced STAR once their income and age is verified by New York State, unlike the prior system of having to actually apply for the Enhanced STAR through the Nassau County Department of Assessment.

In addition, if you do not file a tax return in a given year for any reason, and you are registered in the STAR credit program, New York State will send you an income worksheet to complete to substantiate your income to be eligible for Basic or Enhanced STAR.

Please keep in mind that those homeowners that currently receive the Basic STAR exemption and do not wish to switch to the credit program, if they believe they qualify for Enhanced STAR, they must still apply for the for Enhanced STAR exemption through the Nassau County Department of Assessment utilizing the following form:  https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18858/Enhanced-STAR-Application-2020-21?bidId=

Don’t Wait to Save
While there are no specific deadlines associated with registering for STAR, it’s in your best interest to satisfy New York State’s newly imposed requirements as soon as possible to reduce your property tax bite. And, if you’re interested in doing as much as you can to reduce your property tax bill, please contact us at Maidenbaum. We’re the property tax pros in Nassau County, and we’ll do our very best to make sure you never pay more than what the law requires. Click here to get started.