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Fewer homeowners receiving STAR tax breaks

For the first time in 15 years, Albany decided to review homeowners across the state who get STAR tax exemptions. Now, the state is handing out 150,000 fewer property tax breaks.

State and local governments put on a full-court press to ensure people filed the paperwork or made the phone calls to make sure homeowners held on to their property tax break. There hasn't been any requirement to occasionally re-file as there is for senior citizen STAR which requires annual proof of income below the tax break ceiling. 
"After 15-years without having people register, the governor recognized that there was a good deal of inappropriate exemption being given," said Geoff Gloak, a spokesperson for  the State Department of Taxation and Finance.

"Local government had no way of knowing if someone was receiving a second exemption in another part of the state."

Gloak says the state will save $100 million because of the drop in STAR exemptions since Albany pays the cost. There are nearly three-million STAR exemptions across the state, mostly outside of New York City.

The spokesperson says people can apply or re-apply for STAR or appeal the decision to take away the exemption. The process now requires both an application to the local tax assessor and filling out a response to Albany.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.