New Yorkers– Keep your STAR benefits: Everything you need to know.

Is there ever any tax relief? Property Taxes in New York are ever escalating. As a result, many tax payers claimed that their real estate was eligible for School Tax Relief (STAR), when many of such properties were not actually eligble. Asssessors around the State were missing out on millions of dollars. As a result, the New York State Legislature amended the law to require many New York homeowners to re-apply.

To qualify for STAR, you must occupy your home and your income plus your spouse’s income cannot exceed $500,000 per year. STAR then exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. Until now, homeowners signed up once for STAR and enjoyed the benefits year after year. However, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance is changing the rules for 2014. To continue receiving STAR benefits in 2014, a new law requires homeowners to re-affirm their eligibility. Registration started on August 19 and will end on December 31, 2013.

Homeowners currently receiving Basic Star should watch their mail. The State Taxation Department is mailing STAR codes to STAR recipients. The code is required to register. Letters were already sent to homeowners in Western New York in the following counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates. The remainder of New York State will receive letters containing the codes by early October.

There is also a STAR code lookup available here, although certain counties are still unavailable, including: Rockland, Westchester, Dutchess, Sullivan, Putman, Orange, Geneva, Nassau, Suffolk counties.

In addition to the code, the state requires the following information:

• The names and social security numbers for all owners of the property and spouses.

• Confirmation that the property is the primary residence of one of its owners (married couples with multiple residences may only claim one STAR exemption).

• Confirmation that the combined income of the owners and their spouses who reside at the property does not exceed $500,000.

• Confirmation that no resident owner received a residency-based tax benefit from another state.

Here is another helpful link to the STAR program.

If you prefer to call, a state hotline is available to answer questions. The number is 518-457-2036. New York is also Tweeting about the registration program at: https://twitter.com/NYSTaxNews

Bottom Line– Perhaps if we all start paying our proper share, the taxes will not continually rise.