ALBANY — A new bill (S3505) enables School Tax Relief (STAR) Program applicants to be paid interest for each day their rebate check is late.
“It’s unconscionable that New York taxpayers should have to wait months to receive their STAR rebate checks,” said State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/C/I-Mt. Hope), who joined his colleagues Monday in voting in support of the legislation. “This bill passed unanimously because my colleagues and I realize that it is unacceptable for the Department of Taxation and Finance to continue to experience delays in getting these payments out.”
Last year’s budget changed the current STAR program by phasing out direct payments to school districts on behalf of eligible homeowners and converting STAR exemptions into a refundable property tax credit for new homeowners. The conversion applied to people who purchased their primary residence after the 2015 STAR application deadline or did not apply for the exemption by the 2015 STAR application deadline.
The credit was paid in the form of checks that were supposed to have arrived in the mail by Sept. 30, 2016. However, multiple reports and many constituent complaints indicate that numerous checks arrived late or with the wrong amount of money. The Senate estimates the average basic STAR benefit is $840 per eligible homeowner and the average senior STAR benefit is $1,555.
Bonacic said many property owners need that money to pay their taxes on time.