STAR Program Remains Intact in Final 2020-2021 Budget Negotiations

Proposal in the executive budget to alter STAR benefits rejected by state lawmakers

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, chair of the NYS Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee, reports that an executive proposal to change the STAR program from an exemption to a credit for recipients making $200,000-$250,000 was rejected in the final 2020-2021 budget.

The School Tax Relief (STAR) Program offers a tax reduction for property owners by lowering the amount they owe in school taxes. It is one of the most popular tax benefits in New York State. However, despite its popularity, the rules and regulations surrounding the program have been tinkered with every year during budget negotiations with the Governor. Assemblywoman Galef and the Westchester/Rockland Assembly delegation sent a letter to the Governor in November 2019 asserting that this back and forth has caused unnecessary confusion for their constituencies and made the program less valuable.

The executive proposal would have changed the STAR program from a tax exemption to a credit program for homeowners making $200,000-$250,000 in annual income. This would have required these STAR recipients to wait to receive a credit in the mail rather than having the amount automatically deducted from their school tax bill. Assemblywoman Galef and other advocates were able to successfully block this proposal in the final version of the budget.

Assemblywoman Galef said, “This program is essential for many New Yorkers to make ends meet. Especially during this period of economic crisis, it is critical to uphold tax programs with a proven record of success to offer relief.”

Galef was particularly worried about this proposal because many STAR recipients who have already been switched over to the credit system have a difficult time reaching out to the NYS Tax and Finance Department when checks are lost in the mail or not received.

Galef concluded, “The families and senior citizens in our state who rely on this program deserve stability, and avoiding program changes every year is key to this popular tax benefit.”