ALBANY — A state court has ordered full restitution for homeowners who paid a Nassau County company a total of at least $1.5 million for help in completing a form for the state’s STAR tax exemption, which is free to submit, according to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Schneiderman said a tax preparation company called YCA Corp., based in East Meadow, operated as a “STAR exemption advisor.” Through mailers, the company offered to help homeowners complete forms to receive the state property tax break.
Schneiderman said YCA Corp. submitted bills to residents that often equaled the entire first-year tax break due the taxpayer. If the homeowner refused to pay, the company threatened to take the case to small claims court. That often prompted the customers to pay a settlement to avoid court, he said.
An accounting is underway to find customers who are due full restitution. The company also will face civil penalties under the state Supreme Court decision, Schneiderman said.
“Preying on and deceiving New Yorkers by manipulating the STAR program — one of the few forms of financial relief available to homeowners — is shameful and illegal,” Schneiderman said.
A spokesman for the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Meredith Long, a teacher living in Levittown, said she believed at first that she was dealing with a county or state government worker because the envelope and letterhead appeared to be official.
“When the company sent out the mailing, I had just requested to see if I was eligible from the state,” Long said in an interview.
She said the company ultimately provided no service because she filled out the STAR benefit application herself. Yet she was hit with a bill from the company for $1,707, equal to the first year of the STAR break.