Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — With a deadline looming at the end of the year, state representatives say that only two-thirds of eligible Niagara County residents have filed for the Basic STAR program, which gives school tax reductions of $700 for those who quality.
State Sen. George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Ceretto are urging Basic STAR recipients to re-register for the school tax savings program in order to continue receiving benefits.
With 44,293 eligible residents countywide, roughly 15,000 households have yet to submit their applications for the program, which could equal out approximately $10 million in unclaimed funds, according to Maziarz’s spokesman Adam Tabelski.
“We don’t want a single homeowner to miss out on this important savings on their school tax bill,” Maziarz said.
The one-time re-registration requirement for the Basic STAR program was included in the 2013-2014 state budget as a means of eliminating fraud and abuse among recipients, according to Maziarz. The registration deadline is Dec. 31 in order to continue receiving the exemption in 2014 and beyond.
The state legislators announced that as of Nov. 4, one-third of Basic STAR recipients in Niagara County have not yet re-registered. Specific percentages of unregistered property owners include 30 percent in the city and town of Lockport, 32 percent in Cambria, 34 percent in Hartland, 31 percent in Newfane, 30 percent in Pendleton, 33 percent in Royalton, 38 percent in Somerset and 33 percent in Wilson.
“The average homeowner saves $700 per year thanks to Basic STAR, and that savings is critical to many families who are trying to make ends meet,” Ceretto said. “We don’t want these families hit with a much higher tax bill next year.”
To re-register online, use the personalized STAR Code that was mailed out in September by the state Department of Taxation and Finance and go to www.tax.ny.gov. To re-register by phone, with or without the personalized code, call 518-457-2036.