Cuomo issues alert over STAR rebate scams

Islip School Superintendent Susan Schnebel with a poster Islip School Superintendent Susan Schnebel with a poster that reminds people to register for STAR program at the districts administration office in Islip, N.Y. (Nov. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is urging homeowners to avoid fee-based services offering help applying for the STAR property tax exemption, which they can easily do themselves for free.

Officials said new homeowners in particular have received letters offering to enroll them in the New York State School Tax Relief Program, for a fee equaling the amount of their first year savings.

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Those savings average $700 statewide and can be as high as $3,000 for senior citizens.

Cary Ziter, a spokesman for State Tax Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox, said Friday that the scheme appeared to be "targeted to the Long Island area."

"New Yorkers should not be fooled," Cuomo said in a statement. "I encourage any homeowner not receiving a STAR exemption to apply on their own and avoid disingenuous schemes that seek to charge you for the tax relief that is rightfully yours."

The release cited a letter from Star Exemption Advisor, an East Meadow-based company that is offering to file for the STAR exemption on homeowners' behalf, with first-year savings as a fee.

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A man who answered the phone at the company hung up Friday when asked to comment. No one could be reached Saturday.

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