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Beware property tax rebate scams, NY officials say

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 19,

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 19, 2014. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

State officials Tuesday warned taxpayers not to give personal information to scam artists who are calling about property tax rebate checks being sent from Albany.

Margaret Neri, the state's taxpayer rights advocate, said criminals are offering to confirm taxpayers' eligibility for the rebates.

She said the state Taxation and Finance Department doesn't contact taxpayers by telephone. If the department must contact a taxpayer, it first sends a letter.

"Tax scammers will take advantage of any opportunity to solicit information -- including Social Security numbers -- from taxpayers," Neri said.

She urged taxpayers who receive such calls to file a complaint with the state attorney general's consumer frauds and protection bureau at 800-771-7755.

Nick Benson, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said complaints had been received from across the state.

In March, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers approved two rebate programs.

Families who in 2012 had incomes between $40,000 and $300,000, and claimed at least one dependent child under age 17, are eligible for a $350 check under the Family Tax Relief Credit program. The checks will be in mailboxes by Friday, said tax department spokesman Geoffrey Gloak.

Taxpayers who are eligible for a STAR property tax exemption, live outside New York City and had income of $500,000 or less last year are in line for a partial rebate of their school taxes if their school district complied with a state-imposed tax cap. (On Long Island, only Bridgehampton and East Hampton had tax increases in excess of the cap.)

To calculate the rebate amount under the Property Tax Freeze Credit program, taxpayers can multiply their 2013 school tax bill by 1.5 percent, or .015. Gloak said the checks would be distributed in the coming weeks.

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