By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilman Vincent Gentile offered the city some friendly advice and the city listened.
Back in April, Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) called on the New York City Department of Finance to warn the city’s homeowners that they must reapply for the New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR), saying that the city agency should be doing everything it possibly can in order to notify homeowners that they risk missing out on the program if they don’t re-apply.
New York’s popular STAR program provides a partial exemption from school taxes for most homeowners. Over the past 12 years, actual State disbursements for the STAR program have totaled over $37 billion.
On May 28, Gentile learned that his suggestion was taken seriously by the city.
Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha announced that his agency will now include a message about the STAR registration process inside July’s Property Tax Bills for property owners who have not yet registered.
Homeowners are required to register for the program in order to be eligible for the tax break.
The message from the city to homeowners will read as follows: “Basic STAR was removed from this property because the owner did not register with NY State as required by law. Please contact the NY State Dept. of Taxation and Finance at 518-457-2036 or visit www.tax.ny.gov if you wish to register or need more information.”
Gentile, who called the STAR program, “a proverbial pot of gold for hardworking New Yorkers,” said he was pleased with the new development.
“I applaud the Department of Finance for making these changes and agreeing to some additional outreach,” he said.
New York State offers two types of STAR exemptions: the Basic STAR, which is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners' income is less than $500,000 a year. The program exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. The second type, called Enhanced, STAR provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes and exempts the first $64,200 of the full value of a home from school taxes.
“We need to make sure people are being given all the tools they need to get some relief and when it comes to tax abatement programs, knowledge is power. Homeowners need to be made aware of the protocols and deadlines. The STAR program has succeeded in delivering millions of dollars in tax relief. The Department of Finance should be doing everything it possibly can in order to notify homeowners that they risk missing out on this great program if they don’t re-apply,” Gentile said in April when he was putting pressure on the Department of Finance.