LAKE PLACID - The state started Wednesday sending out notices to homeowners across the North Country about how to re-register for their STAR exemption on school taxes.
About 320,000 homeowners in 19 North Country and eastern region counties will receive letters in the next few days with a code they can use to register.
"Everybody should look in their mail," said Cynthia King, from the Ray Brook state Office of Real Property Tax Services.
Cynthia King and John Stack, from the Ray Brook state Office of Real Property Tax Services, tell the Lake Placid school board Tuesday local residents should be getting letters about re-registering for their STAR exemption in the next few days.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
King and her colleague John Stack were at the Lake Placid Central School District board meeting Tuesday night to explain how the registration works.
The state is trying to make sure it only gives the exemption to people who are eligible for it, King explained. It's only available on a homeowner's primary residence, though an investigation by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance showed some homeowners were claiming the exemption on more than one property, according to a press release from the state. The homeowner also needs to make less than $500,000 a year.
King said some of those people were purposely exploiting the system, but it was easy in the state's previous system for people to have been registered for it more than once and not realize they weren't supposed to.
Once people get their letter, they can go online to www.tax.ny.gov or call the state ORPTS offices and register.
"It's fairly simplistic," King said.
Stack noted the state won't take paper applications, since it can process thousands of them online before processing one paper application.
They will need to know the Social Security numbers of everyone who owns the property being registered. If a homeowner wants to register but hasn't received his or her code yet, it can also be looked up online by last name, King said.
The state will ensure the residence getting the exemption is the homeowner's primary residence. King said Florida is aggressive in making sure that people getting its homestead exemption, similar to New York's STAR exemption, don't claim such discounts in both states. In Florida, the punishment for doing so is painful, with years of back taxes and fees, she said.
Homeowners need to register by Dec. 31, and notifications will go out March 1 to assessors to take STAR exemptions off homes that haven't re-registered or don't make the cut.
This re-registration won't impact school tax bills that just went out; it won't take effect until next year's bills are distributed, King said.
School board President Mary Dietrich said the district should provide pamphlets explaining the re-registration process to taxpayers when they come to the school to pay this year's taxes. She said the board will do whatever it can to get the word out.