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Workshop scheduled in Canton to help residents register for STAR exemptions

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CANTON — A day-long workshop has been scheduled to assist St. Lawrence County residents with registering for the state’s Basic STAR tax exemption.

A new state regulation requires property owners to re-register by Dec. 31 in order to continue receiving the break on their school tax bills.

Staff from St. Lawrence County’s Real Property Tax Office will be available to assist residents from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 10 in Room 249 of the county courthouse, 48 Court St.

“The more people we can get registered on time, the less problems and stress people will have later on,” said Darren W. Colton, county Real Property Tax director. “We are going to take a full day and do whatever we can to service people in any aspect of STAR registration.”

As of Nov. 13, he said 70 percent of eligible property owners in St. Lawrence County had registered for Basic STAR.

In neighboring Jefferson County, the registration level was at 67 percent and Lewis County 68 percent, according to records from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Mr. Colton said he’s hopeful that all county residents who qualify for the exemption apply before the deadline.

The average savings is $600 a year.

“We want everyone who deserves the reduction to get it,” he said. “The state will be mailing postcards to those who have not registered.”

The postcard will encourage recipients to register online at the tax department’s website at www.tax.ny.gov or by calling 518-457-2036.

The notices will include a STAR code that’s needed to register.

Starting with the 2013-14 school taxes, the state is requiring property owners to reregister for Basic STAR. Registration is not required every year.

The exemption is available for owner-occupied primary residences where the resident owners and their spouse’s income is less than $500,000. Those with Basic STAR have their property tax assessment reduced by $30,000 for school tax purposes only.

The state decided to make people reregister to reduce the number of property owners who were fraudulently getting the exemption on more than one property, on a home they didn’t live in or because they earned more than the $500,000 income limit.

Senior citizens receiving Enhanced STAR are not affected by the change because it already requires annual registration or participation in the department’s income verification program.

This year, Enhanced STAR exempts the first $63,300 of the full value of a house from school taxes for property owners 65 or older whose combined adjusted income does not exceed $81,900.

The state agreed to provide a separate written form for those who don’t have telephones or internet access, such as those in Amish communities. The forms are available at local assessor offices.

They can also be directly mailed to those who request them.

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