What is STAR?
Most New York state homeowners are familiar with STAR, the School Tax Relief program launched in 1998-99. Originally intended to assist senior citizen homeowners, STAR was quickly increased and expanded to include residential properties of other school district taxpayers.
Qualified homeowners, who must apply to participate in STAR through their local assessor, receive a partial property tax exemption under the program. The Basic STAR and Enhanced STAR exemptions reduce what homeowners would otherwise owe on their property tax bills. Most STAR recipients save several hundred dollars on their property taxes each year.
Several factors contribute to the calculation of the actual exemption amount, including the level of assessment in the community and, for Enhanced STAR only, an annual adjustment based on the rate of inflation. Prior-year savings under STAR are also a factor, as there is now a 2 percent cap on the increase in maximum STAR savings over the previous year.
STAR exemption amounts are calculated by the Office of Real Property Tax Services, a division of the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. A homeowner’s property tax bill clearly states the exemption amount and tax savings. If taxes are held in an escrow account, homeowners should receive a receipt that includes STAR information.
New for 2019-20
Because of changes New York State made to the Enhanced STAR tax exemption earlier this year, all residents ages 65 and older who are enrolled in Enhanced STAR now need to also be enrolled in the state’s Income Verification Program (IVP) to continue receiving their Enhanced STAR benefit.
In Goshen, the deadline to enroll in IVP is March 1, 2019.
Prior to 2019, residents who qualified for a senior citizen exemption were automatically enrolled in the Enhanced STAR exemption program. If a resident is already enrolled in IVP, no action is necessary to continue receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption.
Homeowners only have to enroll in IVP once. After that, New York State verifies income eligibility automatically. As long as homeowners remain income-eligible, they will continue to receive the benefit every year.
For the 2019-20 school year, senior citizens age 65 and older with qualifying incomes of $86,300 or less are eligible for Enhanced STAR.
For more information on the Enhanced STAR Income Verification Program, visit https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/ivp.htm.
How does STAR affect school districts?
Local school districts are reimbursed by the state for property tax revenues that go uncollected as a result of STAR exemptions. Although STAR exemptions apply to school property taxes, school districts have no influence over the exemptions or tax savings. Because assessment data and equalization rates are not usually available during the spring school budget season, school districts frequently resist quoting future tax rates related to their proposed spending plans. Accurate tax information becomes available later in the summer before tax bills are sent to residents.