Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Time is running out for New York State homeowners to apply for STAR tax exemptions.
All homeowners who have the state's basic STAR tax credits have to reapply for the benefit as part of an effort to weed out waste and abuse. State officials say 800,000 people still haven't registered with the Dec. 31 deadline looming. More than 1.9 million homeowners have registered
The state's enhanced STAR program for senior citizens is unaffected by the changes.
STAR Exemptions are available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the owners' and their spouses income is less than $500,000. STAR exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. Senior citizens are eligible for "Enhanced STAR," which allows them to have the first $64,200 of the home's value exempted.
"We have about 80 percent renewal, which is good, but not good enough" said Assemblyman Ray Walter. "Depending on what school district you're in, it could be seven, eight, or nine-hundred dollar you could be saving in your property tax bill.
The deadline to apply or re-apply for the STAR exemption is December 31st, except in the city of Buffalo. The city stopped taking new applications for 2014 on December 1, but city residents can still re register with the state by the end of the year.
And if you miss any of the deadlines, Esther Gulyas of EG Tax says there's no word on if an appeal is possible either.
"The state of New York has not made a determination as of yet to determine if they'll allow people to get the STAR exemption without an appeal, so you need to do it right away," says Gulyas.
On her show on WBEN, Gulyas heard from callers who said they hadn't heard much about the requirement to re-register this year.
"At that point, we kind of let it drop because we though it was well publicized, but nobody is really talking about that, and it makes you think some of this has gone over some people's heads," says Gulyas.
Walter says there are a number of ways to apply. "You can go on the department of taxation and finance website, you can call any one of your representatives' offices, everyone should have received something in the mail with a number on it that they can use to log on to the website and access their information."
Walter also said that there will be a community forum held on December 17th at Amherst Town Hall, where residents can be shown how to renew the exemption