Big changes have been made to the STAR rebate, and Richard DeBragga, Brookhaven town tax assessor, came to the Sound Beach Civic Association’s meeting Aug. 12 to explain what that means for North Shore residents.
The STAR rebate gives around 2.6 million homeowners in New York State the opportunity to get a rebate on their school taxes, which represent an average of 60 percent of a homeowner’s tax bill. Homeowners who qualify include those making under $500,000 annually and have their home as their primary residence. Those seniors, over 65 years of age, are able to get what is called the Enhanced STAR credit, and those must have an adjusted gross income below $86,300.
The state budget, approved back in April, made several changes to the program. Before, those that bought their homes starting Aug. 1, 2015, have been receiving checks in the mail instead of savings on their bills.
In essence, the program now incentivizes a mail-in check instead of the usual savings in the school tax bill as has been normal since the program was implemented nearly 25 years ago. Now those making $250,000 and $500,000 a year will also receive checks. In addition, those enrolled in Enhanced STAR must enroll in an income verification program to verify they are making below the minimum. DeBragga said those who want to apply to have to verify their income every year through the program, unless they can sign a statement that they qualify so the program will automatically check it every year.
DeBragga said the state is incentivizing checks rather than the tax break, saying the state is only offering the 2 percent annual increase to those who receive checks.