Q & A About The New York State School Property Tax Exemption (STAR)

John J. Flanagan

What is STAR?

The New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR) provides New York homeowners with partial exemptions from school property taxes. If you earn less than $500,000 and own and live in your home, you are probably eligible for the STAR exemption.

There are two types of STAR property tax exemptions:

Basic STAR is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the owners’ total income is less than $500,000. Basic STAR works by exempting the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes.

Enhanced STAR - all owners must be 65 or older, except for spouses or siblings, and total income must be $81,900 or less, which is the combined income of:

  • a) all owners, and
  • b) any owner’s spouse who lives in the home.provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes. For qualifying seniors, Enhanced STAR exempts the first $64,200 of the full value of their home from school taxes.

What is the deadline for submitting the STAR application?

STAR applications must either be received in the assessor’s office or be postmarked by taxable status date. In Suffolk County the deadline is March 3rd. While the date is usually, March 1st, when taxable status date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the deadline for filing exemption applications is extended until the next business day.

For the taxable status date of other localities, other assessment calendar dates, assessor telephone numbers or additional information for your municipality, visit Municipal Profiles. When checking the deadline for filing STAR and other exemption applications, it is important that you check the taxable status date for the assessing unit with which you are filing the application. While the dates online are correct based on the best available information, we encourage you to confirm taxable status date for your municipality with your assessor.

How do I apply for Basic STAR?

File an application with your local assessor. STAR applications are available from your assessor's office or on the on the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance's web site.

How do I apply for Enhanced STAR?

File an application with your assessor.  For the 2014-2015 school year, those applying for the Enhanced STAR exemption must demonstrate that the combined income of all of the owners of the property - and of any owner’s spouse who resides on the premises -was no greater than $81,900 in 2012.  You may do this in one of two ways

Option 1: Traditional method: Prior to the deadline, provide your assessor with your STAR application and a copy of your income tax return(s) for the appropriate income tax year (see income definition that follows).

Option 2: Prior to the deadline, provide your assessor with your STAR application and a copy of your income tax return(s) for the appropriate income tax year (see income definition that follows).

Provide the assessor with form RP-425 which includes your Social Security Number(s) and authorizes the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to verify your income eligibility each year. If you choose this option, you do not need to submit an application and copy of your tax return(s) to the assessor every year. In the initial year, prior to the deadline, you must submit the form to the assessor along with a traditional STAR application and the necessary income tax return(s).

Brookhaven Town Hall
One Independence Hill, Farmingville 11738

Huntington Town Hall
100 Main Street, Huntington 11743

Smithtown Town Hall Annex
40 Maple Avenue, Smithtown 11787
631-360-7560 or STAR Hotline at 631-360-1704

What types of properties are eligible for STAR?

STAR applies to any residential property used as a primary residence, including houses, condominiums, cooperative apartments, mobile homes, and farm houses. STAR also applies to mixed-use properties such as apartment buildings, but only for the portion owned and used as a primary residence.

How is income defined for STAR purposes?

STAR relies on the information reported on your 2012 income tax return. Income is defined as the amount reported as federal “adjusted gross income” (AGI) less the “taxable amount” of IRA distributions. The instructions on the STAR application will indicate which lines on the tax return these amounts are taken from.  You may send either your federal or state income tax return.

For Enhanced STAR, how is age defined?

For the 2014-2015 school year, you and all other owners must be at least 65 years old as of December 31, 2014. However, if you co-own the property with your spouse or any siblings, only one of you needs to meet this requirement.

Can the Enhanced STAR exemption be granted to nursing home residents who own their homes?

Yes, provided that no one other than the co-owner(s) or spouse resides on the premises.

Can a surviving spouse who is not 65 years old continue to receive the Enhanced exemption?

A surviving spouse can retain an existing Enhanced STAR exemption provided that she or he is at least 62 years old as of December 31 of the year in which the exemption will continue. Otherwise, the individual may receive the Basic STAR exemption.

How will I know my STAR application has been approved?

Your assessor will notify you only if your application is denied. Your main responsibility is to ensure your application is received by the assessor’s office. If you’re mailing your application, send it registered mail/return receipt requested. If you’re hand-delivering it, ask for a receipt. You can confirm you’ll be receiving the STAR exemption by checking the tentative assessment roll when it’s made available to the public. The assessment roll will indicate next to your property the type and amount of your exemption. Tentative assessment rolls usually come out on May 1.

How will I know how much STAR is saving me in tax dollars?

You will receive a school property tax bill or other notice that will clearly state the amount of the STAR exemption and your tax savings.

Does STAR apply to all taxes on my property?

No. The STAR exemption applies only to school district taxes. It does not apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, where schools are funded through city property taxes).

Is STAR available on my vacation residence?

No. The STAR benefit cannot be used for more than one property. Only your primary residence is eligible for STAR.

How does STAR work for cooperative apartments and manufactured homes in manufactured home parks?

File your application with your assessor. The assessor will provide a breakdown of the exemptions to the cooperative manager or park owner, who will then pass the tax savings onto you.

What if I buy a new home?

You must reapply for STAR every time your primary residence changes. There’s no requirement for length of ownership. You only need to own the home by the time you apply.

What if part of my property is used for other than residential purposes?

For mixed-use properties, you must be the owner and live on the premises. For example, you own an apartment building and serve as the landlord, but you also live in one of the apartments. The full exemption will be applied to the apportioned value of your apartment, not the entire building.

If I qualify for the low-income senior exemption, am I also eligible for Enhanced STAR?

Yes. Your senior citizen exemption automatically qualifies you for Enhanced Star. You will only need to apply for the Senior Citizens’ Exemption to receive both that exemption and the Enhanced STAR. You can download the initial application Form RP-467 at www.tax.ny.gov.

How is STAR administered where property is in a trust?

The STAR applies only to the beneficiaries of the trust, not any of the trustees. For example, you create a trust and convey your home to your children as trustees, and you and your spouse remain in the home as beneficiaries of the trust. For STAR purposes, you’re the owners of the home, not your children, which entitles you to the STAR benefit.

How is STAR administered where property is in a life estate?

The STAR applies to the life tenant. The life tenant is the person who owns and benefits from the property for the duration of his or her life.

Where can I get more information about the STAR program?

Please contact you town assessor or visit the New York State Office of Taxation and Finance by clicking here.

Please click here for a STAR Q & A from New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.