Includes Six-Year Ban on Property Owners Who Provide False Information on STAR Credit Applications and Expansion of the Income Verification Program
STAR Program Provides $3.4 Billion in Relief from School Property Taxes Annually
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the FY 2020 Enacted Budget includes measures to prevent STAR fraud and abuse, including a six-year ban during which those found to have knowingly provided false information on a STAR credit application will be barred from receiving STAR benefits.
"The STAR program provides real savings and relief to hard-working homeowners across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "We have zero tolerance for those who commit fraud to profit at the expense of their law-abiding neighbors, and with these provisions we will continue to strengthen the STAR program while holding those who try to cheat the system accountable."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Providing real relief to over-burdened New York taxpayers is a top priority for the Senate Majority. We need to combat fraud and abuse to ensure that the STAR program benefits make it to eligible New Yorkers. The Senate Majority was proud to ensure these common sense protections for the STAR program were included in the final budget, and we will continue to stand up for New York taxpayers."
Senator John Brooks said, "The Star Program is a great benefit to Senior Citizens in New York and knowingly defrauding the system is criminal. Accountability leads to honest exchange and I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking steps to crack down on these transgressions."
Assemblyman Fred Thiele said, "The focus of the STAR program has always been on helping hardworking families get ahead, buy homes and invest in our neighborhoods. Those who abuse the program ultimately hurt the more vulnerable members of our population—young families just starting out and seniors living on fixed incomes—and they should be held accountable."
The provision also expands the STAR Income Verification Program to include a review of age and primary residence in addition to income, thus requiring the same eligibility
verification for the Enhanced STAR exemption that it has done for the basic STAR exemption. The Enacted Budget also permits the Commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance to seek repayment if a STAR check was inadvertently sent to someone whose primary residence was receiving a STAR exemption for the same year.
In 2013, Governor Cuomo enacted reforms to the STAR exemption program to crack down on delinquent taxpayers, including preventing property owners who made a material misstatement on a STAR exemption application from receiving the exemption for six years. In 2015, the NYS Tax Department was authorized to recoup STAR benefits from property owners who unlawfully received those state benefits in past years, a power previously held only by local assessors. This law extends those protections to the STAR credit program.
The STAR program provides $3.4 billion in relief from school property taxes each year. It includes the Basic STAR credit benefit for homeowners with incomes of $500,000 or less, the Basic STAR exemption benefit for homeowners with incomes of $250,000 or less, and the Enhanced STAR benefit for seniors with incomes of $86,300 or less. Eligible homeowners can apply for STAR benefits here.