HOME 101: School Tax Relief in New

York State for Senior Citizens

    Attention senior citizens!  While most homeowners are

aware of the NYS Basic STAR tax relief program, which works

by exempting the first $30,000 of the full value of a home

from your local school taxes, there are many other NYS tax

relief programs, and unfortunately, according to a local tax

assessor that we spoke to, the state policy and

recommendation to local town tax assessors is basically

"If they don't ask about it, don't tell them about it". Gee!

Thanks  New York State! The exemptions are not automatic

and must be applied for. But they are there.

    Two programs that we recently researched are particularly

valuable to senior citizens, both designed to lower school

taxes for homeowners over 65 year of age.


    The first is called the Enhanced STAR exemption. According

to the NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance website for the

OFFICE OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES (www.orps.state.ny.us), the exemption is available for "the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 or older) with yearly household incomes not exceeding the statewide standard". We had to call the ORPTS office, (518) 591-5232, to learn that the "statewide standard" for the year 2011 is set at $79,050. If your combined household income is less than that, you qualify for the exemption. The program works by exempting the first $60,100 of the full value of your home from school taxes. If your home is assessed at, say $200,000, that's a 30% reduction in your school tax. This applies only to the primary residence, not other properties owned.

    There are two ways to get the Enhanced STAR exemption.The traditional method is to file an application with your local tax assessor. The assessor can be contacted at your local town office. This method requires you to submit a copy of your income tax return(s), along with your application, every year.

    The second option for obtaining the Enhanced STAR exemption is to enroll in the STAR Income Verification Program which requires you to supply your Social Security Number(s) and authorize the NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance to verify your income eligibility each year. If you choose this option, you do not need to submit an application and copy of your tax return(s) to the assessor every year.


    The other program available to seniors is called the Senior Citizens Exemption. Under this exemption, according to the ORPTS website:

    "NYS Real Property Tax Law, section 467, gives local governments and public school districts the option of granting a reduction on the amount of property taxes paid by qualifying senior citizens. This is accomplished by reducing the taxable value of residential property owned by seniors by 50%. (50%!!!)

    To qualify, seniors generally must be 65 years of age or older and meet certain income limitations and other requirements. For the 50% exemption, the law allows each county, city, town, village, or school district to set the maximum income limit at any figure between $3,000 and $29,000.

    Localities have the further option of giving exemptions of less than 50% to seniors whose incomes are more than $29,000. Under this option, called the sliding-scale option, such owner can have a yearly income as high as $37,399.99 and get a 5% exemption in places that are using the maximum limit.

    Please check with your local assessor, city,town clerk, or school district to determine which local options, if any, are in effect."

    Remember, these are not automatic exemptions, but they are there for the informed senior citizen. We recommend that you check out the website noted above, or call the ORPTS office for more information.




Campbell and Davies LLC    201 Dey St Suite 211 Ithaca, NY 14850   

607 216 0036    fax 607 216 0402   campbellanddavies@yahoo.com   


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