Time remains to sign up for STAR

Island property owners have until the end of February to sign up for town and state programs to save money on taxes. Many residents can qualify for a reduction in school taxes, regardless of age or income level, providing they own property on Shelter Island and make it their primary residence. The simple, brief application form is available at the Town Assessor’s office (749-1080).

New York State’s basic School Tax Relief (STAR) program exempts the first $63,730 of the assessed value of the property from school taxes. Residents who already have an application on file from a previous year do not have to file again unless they have moved to a new property on the Island. First-time applicants will need to provide proof of residency.

A second STAR program is available to seniors, ages 65 or  older, whose annual earnings do not exceed $79,050. This “enhanced” STAR program applies to the first $126,840 of the property’s assessed value and exempts that amount from the school tax.

Applications for enhanced STAR savings must be made by Tuesday, March 1 and will require proof of residency and the most recent year’s filed income tax return. Application for this program needs to be renewed annually. According to the Assessor’s Office, a number of heretofore eligible residents have not yet sent or brought in their renewal applications. Other Islanders may only have become eligible in 2010 and will need to apply for the first time.

The town also has a special senior exemption for those ages 65 and older who earn less than $38,399 annually, which provides a percentage off property taxes — not just school taxes — on a sliding scale depending on income.