Governor wants to crack down on abuse of STAR tax relief program

Posted 26 February 2019 at 4:24 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a comprehensive proposal to build upon the state’s efforts to keep the School Tax Relief program free from fraud and abuse, including a six-year ban imposed on those who knowingly provide false information on a STAR credit application, precluding them from receiving STAR benefits during that timeframe.

The provisions would also expand the STAR Income Verification Program and permit the Commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance to seek repayment in cases where a STAR check is inadvertently sent to someone whose primary residence was receiving a STAR exemption for the same year, helping to recover improperly granted benefits.

“The STAR program provides a substantial benefit to property owners, and those who seek to profit at the expense of honest New Yorkers must be held accountable,” Governor Cuomo said. “This aggressive policy to combat fraud once again sends a clear message that New York has zero tolerance for anyone who cheats the system.”

In 2013, Governor Cuomo enacted reforms to the STAR program to crack down on delinquent taxpayers, including barring property owners who made a material misstatement on a STAR exemption application from receiving the exemption for six years. In 2015, the State Department of Taxation and Finance was authorized to recoup STAR benefits from property owners who unlawfully received those state benefits in past years, a power that previously resided with local assessors only.

The STAR program provides $3.4 billion in relief from school property taxes. It includes the Basic STAR benefit for homeowners with incomes under $500,000, and the Enhanced STAR benefit for seniors with income of $86,300 or less.

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