An election-year rebate plan means a new financial wrinkle that homeowners should keep in mind when reviewing school districts' tax projections detailed in this School Voters Guide.
Though most districts propose raising taxes slightly for the 2014-15 school year, that doesn't mean residents will pay more. They actually should break even or possibly come out ahead, state and local authorities said.
The $375 million plan approved by elected leaders in Albany will provide school-tax rebates to homeowners throughout the state. Checks are scheduled to go out in October, shortly before state elections are held.
Tim Maher, property tax manager for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said the size of rebate checks will be calculated in one of two ways, depending upon which provides the largest benefit: (1) increases in school taxes between 2013-14 and 2014-15, excluding certain hikes such as those due to home expansions; (2) 2013-14 school taxes multiplied by an inflation factor of 1.46 percent.
In other words, homeowners whose tax bills rise can expect to get checks fully covering the increase, state tax officials said. And if tax bills decrease, homeowners should get checks equivalent to 1.46 percent of the 2013-14 school tax, those administrators added.
Homeowners qualify if they have incomes of $500,000 or less, their primary residences have STAR tax exemptions, and their school districts stay within state-imposed tax caps. That includes all but five districts on Long Island -- Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Patchogue-Medford, Sayville and West Babylon -- that have announced potential cap overrides in Tuesday's school elections. Overrides require a 60 percent voter majority.