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Legislature moves to revise STAR tax break, late rebates

The Assembly on Wednesday passed its version of

The Assembly on Wednesday passed its version of a bill that would return the STAR tax rebate program to an automatic tax bill deduction. Photo Credit: Dave Oxford

ALBANY

The Assembly on Wednesday passed its version of a bill that would return the STAR tax rebate program to an automatic tax bill deduction and avoid statewide complaints about rebate checks that are months late this year.

Last month, the Senate passed a bill that would require the state to pay interest to taxpayers when their tax break is late.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo changed the system last year to reduce waste and fraud in the system. The change, approved by the Legislature, has resulted in some benefits being nearly five months late with an unknown number of property owners still awaiting their checks. A lack of uniformity in state and local tax assessor records needed to verify taxpayers and their benefits have slowed the process, Cuomo administration officials said.

“Historically, the STAR exemption program that provided immediate reduction in tax liability has been the most convenient form of real property tax relief in that it provides relief upfront,” said Assemb. Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore), a co-sponsor of the Assembly bill, in an interview. He said the old system is “sorely missed.”

The Assembly bill would transition back to the immediate discount on property tax bills.

On Feb. 13, the Senate passed a bill to compensate property taxpayers with interest on the money still owed them because of changes a year ago to the STAR program.

“We want to ensure that taxpayers get the property tax relief they deserve and they get that relief on time,” said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate’s Republican majority.

The Senate and Assembly would have to pass the same bill, which could be a melding of the two. The bill would then go to Cuomo for his signature to make it law or his veto, which the Legislature could try to override.

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