Star Program Mess Is Another Headache For Taxpayers

New York homeowners face some of the highest property taxes in the country. And these days, many are facing new challenges trying to find help from a program that they have relied upon for years. 
 
The Cuomo Administration has been tinkering with the STAR program – which was established to provide eligible taxpayers with some financial relief on their property taxes. Many of the changes to the STAR program have also impacted the Enhanced STAR program, which many seniors rely on to pay their tax bills. 
 
As local tax assessors are seeing across the state, the changes have added confusion and questions – seniors on a fixed-income are being bumped from the program, assessors’ offices are being inundated with calls, and errors have made it unnecessarily difficult for some to pay their school taxes on time.
 
Sadly, this is not the first year there have been problems with the state-managed STAR program. 
 
Delays and confusion have been amplified by a separate STAR Personal Income Tax Credit Program the governor recently implemented. To help protect New Yorkers and lessen their worry and confusion, I co-sponsored legislation that would have transitioned STAR back to the exemption program that had been successful for years.
 
Talk about an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario. 
 
Unfortunately, residents must now choose between getting tax relief upfront from the STAR Exemption Program or getting a little more relief if they let the state send them a check from the STAR Personal Income Tax Credit Program – with an uncertain delivery date. 
 
At the end of the day, and for taxpayers facing deadlines, this has been a solution in search of a problem, with highly questionable results. 
 
THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO HELP TAXPAYERS
 
The Assembly Minority Conference has long believed taxes in New York are excessive and one of the primary causes of outmigration, economic stagnation and, quite frankly, general frustration for hard-working New Yorkers. 
 
We have advocated for a number of proposals to make it more affordable to live in New York, and one such plan (A.3227, Kolb) would put a permanent moratorium on unfunded mandates, one of the biggest drivers of high property taxes. If the state would stop forcing municipalities to pay for things they didn’t ask for, local governments would not need to pass those costs onto homeowners to stay solvent.
 
And, here’s an even simpler idea, stop taking taxpayer money in the first place. 
 
Let’s face it, there would be no need for budget gimmicks, rebate checks or calls to the state tax department if your bills weren’t so high in the first place. New York has long had a spending problem. We must cut costs, reduce waste and stop passing costly measures that ask residents to collectively shell out millions. There has to be a better way to make life affordable, because the mess we are now in serves no one, not even the governor.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter

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