Understanding New York's Star Program
What is STAR?
Most New York State homeowners are familiar with
STAR, the School TAx Relief
program launched in 1998-99. Originally intended to assist senior
citizen (age 65 and
over) homeowners, STAR was quickly increased and expanded to include
properties of other school district taxpayers.
Qualified homeowners (who must apply to
participate in STAR through their local
assessor) receive a partial property tax exemption under the
program, which reduces
what they would otherwise owe on their property tax bills that year.
districts are, in turn, reimbursed by the state for the uncollected
property tax revenues.
Most STAR recipients save several hundred dollars
on their property taxes eachyear.
Several factors contribute to the calculation of the actual amount,
assessed value of the home and its location (some counties are
to account for higher home values and higher taxes), the level of
assessment in the
community, and an annual adjustment based on the rate of inflation
Prior year savings under STAR are now also a
factor. In 2011-12, the state enacted a
2 percent cap on the increase in maximum STAR savings over the
Although STAR exemptions apply to school property taxes, school
districts have no
influence over the exemptions or tax savings. STAR exemption amounts
by the Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS), a division of
the state Department
of Taxation and Finance.
Because assessment data and equalization rates
are not usually available during the
spring school budget season, school districts frequently resist
quoting future tax rates
related to their proposed spending plans. Accurate tax information
later in the summer before tax bills are sent to residents.
The school property tax bill will clearly state
the STAR exemption amount and tax
savings. If taxes are held in an escrow account, homeowners should
receive a receipt
that includes STAR information.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF STAR AVAILABLE
BASED ON THE AGE AND INCOME OF
BASIC STAR is available on a homeowner’s primary
residence only, and for households with an income of less than
$500,000. Homeowners need apply only one time for BASIC STAR, and it
remains in effect until ownership of the home changes. However, the
exemption amount is calculated each year, and the actual tax savings
may change annually.
ENHANCED STAR assists homeowners age 65 and older
with household incomes below a specific
limit that is adjusted annually based on the rate of inflation
($84,550 or less in 2016). The income limit is applied to all owners of the
property and any owner’s spouse who resides at the property.
Enhanced STAR is available on the homeowners’ primary residence
only, and requires an annual application with proof of income,
typically by March 1.