ALBANY Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I Olean) announced that the state Senate passed legislation that would restore the STAR property tax rebate program, providing $202 million in property tax relief to seniors in the 2012-13 school year, and $1.2 billion in property tax relief to middle class families starting in 2013-14.
"The STAR rebate program offers direct relief to our hardworking, overburdened property taxpayers," Young said.
"Our taxpayers saved an estimated $456 million as a result of the two percent property tax cap this year, compared to the historical average increase of 4.6 percent. While this is great news, we need to do more to provide relief. Directing savings to our homeowners through rebate checks is another way we can help our seniors and middle income families to afford staying in their homes," she added.
Under the provisions of the bill, beginning in the 2012-13 school year, senior citizens would receive a rebate check in an amount that equals 25 percent of the current STAR exemption benefit. The benefit would increase to 35 percent of the STAR exemption starting in the 2013-14 school year. Total property tax relief for seniors next school year would be $202 million.
Basic STAR rebate checks for middle class families would be restored beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The amount of the rebate checks would be determined by income and the local school district tax rate. Total property tax relief would be $1.2 billion. The income brackets would be as follows:
For Upstate New York counties: $0 to $90,000 60 percent of the STAR exemption; $90,001 to $150,000 45 percent; $150,001 to $250,000 30 percent
The Basic STAR rebate check percentages would remain the same in the 2014-15 school year, but would increase in each of the next two years to 70 percent, 52.5 percent and 35 percent in 2015-16 and to 80 percent, 60 percent and 40 percent in 2016-17.
In any year when there is no appropriation for the rebate checks, senior citizens and middle class taxpayers would be able to claim a property tax credit, equivalent to their rebate check, against their personal income taxes.
The Senate also passed legislation to simplify the process for senior citizens and other qualifying homeowners to apply for and receive their STAR property tax exemption.
The bill eliminates the requirement that senior citizens reapply for the STAR property tax exemption every year.
"Seniors should not be forced to reapply annually for a senior citizens' real property tax exemption. This legislation removes the unnecessary and burdensome task of annually filing by placing the responsibility for checking income requirements on the tax authority. We are removing a hurdle so we can allow seniors to more effectively budget, control, and determine their financial futures," Young said.
In addition, the Senate passed a bill (S3576) that enables local tax assessors to accept late applications for all exemptions without penalty up to the last day that a taxpayer can pay the first half of their taxes.
All three bills will be sent to the Assembly.