Outdated STAR exemption forms mailed in Bemus Point, Cassadaga districts

Homeowners currently receiving STAR exemption forms within the school districts of Bemus Point and Cassadaga Valley should shred them.

Randy Holcomb, assessor for the town of Ellery, told the OBSERVER on Tuesday that the state’s school tax relief program forms have been mistakenly sent out to property owners by both districts when they should not have been.

“We administer the program through the assessor’s office, and I’m sure the schools thought they were being helpful,” Holcomb said. “However, it’s a huge problem for the property owners and taxpayers of those two districts for three reasons.”

First, in order to receive the STAR exemption savings for the 2014-15 school tax year, the deadline for filing was March 1.

“Everyone who will get a STAR exemption this September had to file by that deadline, so when they receive these exemption forms, they’re thinking they have to refile or get them in again,” Holcomb said. “Some are under the assumption they didn’t file at all.”

Second, property owners over the age of 65 receive an enhanced STAR exemption if they qualify under certain income limits set by the state, which vary year to year.

Holcomb said both schools sent out the wrong exemption form with the incorrect income limit.

Lastly, new forms will be mailed out to those who reapply for the 2015-16 school tax year in late fall.

“We have to send out the 2014-15 school taxes before we send out new exemption forms,” Holcomb said.

Another issue he noted was an envelope received by an Ellery resident that didn’t have a name on it.

“When we send the renewals, it’s to the person at their address,” Holcomb said.

This is not the time of year STAR exemption forms are commonly discussed. STAR is a school tax credit administered through the assessor’s office, not school districts.

For the 2013-14 exemption period, Jamestown property owners saw a savings of $604 under the basic program. Qualified registrants under the enhanced program saw a savings of $1,231.

Exemptions apply only to school district taxes. They don’t apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in cities where city property taxes fund schools including Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers).

Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the owner and their spouse’s incomes total less than $500,000. The program exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes.

Property owners are eligible for one exemption for a primary residence only.

Anyone receiving renewal forms dated 2014-15 can disregard them, or call their town assessor, Holcomb said.

For more information about the program, visit www.tax.ny.gov or call 518-457-2036.