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Brookhaven Town tax bills getting bigger - the paperwork, that is

Brookhaven Town Tax Receiver Lou Marcoccia on Tuesday.

Brookhaven Town Tax Receiver Lou Marcoccia on Tuesday. Credit: James Carbone

Brookhaven residents will soon be getting a bigger tax bill.

The paperwork, that is.

Town tax statements mailed to residents this month are twice as large as the old ones to make room for information about STAR exemptions that state tax authorities will require in future mailings, Brookhaven officials said Tuesday.

Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the old one-page tax receipts — mailed to residents after they have paid their taxes — were expanded to two pages to make it easier for people to read, and to help residents better understand how their tax dollars are spent.

"This change will help the taxpayer to pick up their bill without being a physicist and see where their tax bill is going," Romaine said at a Brookhaven Town Hall news conference. "We're not going to try to condense everything into a one-page bill with point [size] that's microscopic."

Brookhaven officials said state tax authorities are planning to require municipalities to add language to tax statements regarding STAR exemptions for those residents who are eligible. The popular STAR — School Tax Relief — program cuts school taxes for seniors and other eligible recipients through either property tax exemptions or checks mailed to recipients by the state tax department. Town officials said they expect to be required to add that information to a section on tax statements that outlines the amount of school taxes residents owe.

State Department of Taxation and Finance spokesman James Gazzale said in an email that required language about STAR has "changed slightly" compared to previous requirements. The new language tells eligible taxpayers that a STAR-related check "has been or will be mailed to you by the NYS Tax Department." The phrase "has been or" did not appear in previous requirements, Gazzale said.

In addition, municipalities must tell STAR exemption recipients that their current tax savings cannot exceed last year's. The phrase, "by more than 2 percent," which appeared in previous tax statements, has been removed, Gazzale said. 

Brookhaven's expanded tax receipts include blank spaces to make room for that information, as well as any additional information that might be required in the future, town Receiver of Taxes Louis J. Marcoccia said, adding he is open to suggestions from the public regarding improvements.

"If we get a lot of complaints that the type is too small, we can make those changes," Marcoccia said.

The first page of the new statements includes information about school and library taxes owed by taxpayers, Brookhaven officials said. The second page states the amount of taxes owed to other governmental entities, such as fire districts and Suffolk County, they said.

Brookhaven sends tax bills to about 170,000 homes. Receipts are mailed in batches of 50,000 at a time — the first batch was mailed Friday and the rest will be mailed over the next three weeks.

The expanded statements require a modest increase in the cost of printing the receipts, but no additional mailing costs, Marcoccia said. The town tax office purchases paper under a contract with Suffolk County, he said.

"It's within the budget that we have," he said. "Overall, the cost is very small."

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