New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

Residents who receive a STAR property tax check from New York state should be receiving them any day.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has mailed more than 303,000 checks, a tax department spokesman told syracuse.com this week. The office sends about 2 million checks annually.

For residents of school districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, the tax department indicates that it started sending STAR checks at thre beginning of September.

The average benefit is $790 for basic STAR and $1,381 for enhanced STAR, which stands for School Tax Relief program.

STAR was originally a reduction in the property tax bill each homeowner paid to the school district. Now, the state is switching STAR to a credit on each eligible homeowner’s income tax.

The Basic STAR program exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school property taxes for owner-occupied, primary residences where the owners’ income is less than $500,000.

Enhanced STAR is an extra benefit for seniors age 65 and older with incomes less than $86,300. It exempts the first $68,700 of the full value of a home from school property taxes under this year’s formula.

New York added new rules to the program earlier this year that will require more people to make the switch to an income tax credit.

The most immediate change in the state budget is for homeowners who make more than $250,000 in annual salaries. They are required to shift from local government administration to the state’s credit system. At the state level, the income threshold is $500,000 in annual income.

Other homeowners who qualify for STAR have a choice whether to stay with the current system or shift to the state. But those who stay with the current system will have the amount of their benefit frozen at 2019 levels.

If the school district increases spending for 2020, homeowners who stay with the current system will not get a bigger tax break to match that spending. The increased benefit can grow up to 2 percent a year.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)

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