Re-register for STAR, or see your property taxes spike in 2014

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Assessor Al Hammond is concerned that Island residents are not re-registering for STAR and will see their property taxes spike next year

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Assessor Al Hammond is concerned Island residents are not re-registering for STAR and thus will see their property taxes spike next year.

While many are turning their attention to completing Christmas shopping in time, there’s another December deadline that looms that has the potential to affect many Island homeowners.

A new law requires homeowners re-register for the Basic School Tax Relief exemption by December 31.

But because 42 percent of Islanders who’ve enjoyed the Basic STAR exemption still haven’t re-registered, assessor Al Hammond is concerned.

“We don’t know who they are,” Mr. Hammond said of those who haven’t yet refiled and are in danger of seeing their property taxes spike next year.

The easiest way to re-register for a Basic STAR exemption is to file on the Tax Department’s website.

You will need your STAR code to re-register (check your mail from weeks back). If you don’t have the code, you can get it online or by calling the Tax Department at 518-457-2036. You may also call that number to re-register if you prefer not to do so online.

In re-registering, you should have Social Security numbers available for all owners and spouse

The state Department of Taxation and Finance won’t be notifying local assessors about those who have failed to re-register until February 2014, meaning it will be too late to get the exemption for next year.

The reason for the re-filings is a new state law aimed at eliminating fraud, state officials have said. Whether purposely or accidentally, people throughout New York who own multiple homes had registered for multiple STAR exemptions.

But that’s not allowed under the law. A homeowner has to prove primary residence by such documents as vehicle and voter registrations, and it’s up to the local assessor to make a judgment on eligibility.

To be eligible for the Basic STAR exemption, a household must have earned $500,000 or less.

There is no age requirement.

If you have never filed for a STAR exemption and believe you are eligible, you won’t be affected by the re-registration process, but you will need to file a Form RP-425, also available online.

Those 65 or older who receive Enhanced STAR exemptions aren’t required to re-register. Their eligibility is based on age and an annual income of $81,000 or less.

Throughout Long Island, there are 31 percent, or 175,092, who have failed to file, state officials said.

jlane@timesreview.com