Homeowners offered help with STAR tax rebate re-registrations

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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Some of the more than 175,000 Long Island homeowners who haven't re-registered for STAR tax exemptions will be able to do so at a Hauppauge help center this week, state officials said.

About 31 percent of Suffolk and Nassau homeowners have yet to reapply for the benefits, which average about $700 a year statewide.

The new requirement was adopted last spring after the state Tax Department found that tens of thousands of homeowners were getting exemptions on more than one residence.

Only primary residences qualify for STAR, or School Tax Relief Program. The combined income of resident owners and their spouses must also be $500,000 or less.

Previously, local assessors had to root out instances of STAR double dipping. Under the new law, the state is creating a database to make it easier to spot cheaters.

So far, just under 2 million property owners have re-registered ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline. Another 800,000 may be eligible, officials said.

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State employees will help Long Islanders apply at the Perry Duryea State Office Building, 250 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Hauppauge, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Six other temporary help centers will be set up around the state.

New homeowners have to apply with their local assessor to get the exemption; next year, the state will contact them so that they can re-register.

Residents should have received a letter containing a STAR registration code. They also can look it up online. Owners may use the code to re-register online -- at tax.ny.gov -- or by phone at 518-457-2036.

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Senior citizens who are already enrolled in the "Enhanced STAR" program aren't affected by the new STAR requirement.

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