Late Enhanced STAR applications due to good cause
The Real Property Tax Law includes a provision to enable senior citizens to ask the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance for permission to file late Enhanced STAR exemption applications. The deadline to request the extension and apply for Enhanced STAR is the last day for paying school taxes without incurring interest or penalty. For homeowners with installment plans, the deadline is the last day to pay the final installment without penalty or interest.
To request an extension, the property owner sends Form RP-425-GC, Application for Extension of Enhanced STAR Deadline (instructions) to the Tax Department. If the application is based on a recent change in status, such as a deed change, marital status change, or life estate or trust change, the application should be accompanied by documentation of the change. The material should be mailed to:
NYS TAX DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF REAL PROPERTY TAX SERVICES – GC
W A HARRIMAN CAMPUS
ALBANY NY 12227-0801
The Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS) will take the following steps:
- Review the form and documentation provided by the property owner.
- Email the assessor and county director requesting a response within 5 days if they have information that would result in denial of the good cause request.
- Determine whether the Enhanced STAR exemption should be granted.
- Notify the property owner of the determination (approval or denial).
If ORPTS determines that the exemption should be granted:
- ORPTS will enroll the property in the IVP Tool,
- the assessor or person who has custody of the roll will update the roll, and
- if the bill has already been issued with the Basic exemption, ORPTS will send a check to the property owner for the difference between the Basic and Enhanced exemption savings amount (also known as a differential check) up to the amount of the senior's school tax liability.
Questions and answers for local assessment officials
Q. Why should ORPTS grant the Enhanced STAR exemption to a homeowner who didn’t submit their Enhanced STAR application by the Taxable Status Date?
A. The intent of the Good Cause program is to grant the exemption to seniors who missed the deadline for a sufficient reason. RPTL 425(6)(a-2) authorizes the department to extend the filing deadline and grant the exemption if it is “satisfied that (i) good cause existed for the failure to file the application by the taxable status date, and that (ii) the applicant is otherwise entitled to the exemption.”
Q. I never received any paperwork from the homeowner, so how can I put the Enhanced STAR exemption on the roll?
A. RPTL 425(6)(a-2) states, “the assessor shall thereupon be authorized and directed to correct the assessment roll accordingly, or, if another person has custody or control of the assessment roll, to direct that person to make the appropriate corrections.”
ORPTS will send an email to the assessor and county director when a good cause application is approved and ask the assessor to respond. If the assessor believes that the property is not eligible for the Enhanced STAR exemption due to residency, age, or ownership issues, within five business days, the assessor is directed to send an email to the email address provided with Good Cause and the Muni Code in the subject line which includes the following:
- why the property is ineligible
- property owner name
- property address
- property key
However, if the homeowner is otherwise eligible and the final determination is made, the law does not provide the assessor with the opportunity to reject the department’s determination.
Q. How can I enroll a property in the IVP Tool without an Enhanced STAR application for the property?
A. If ORPTS grants the Enhanced STAR exemption as the result of a good cause application, ORPTS will enroll the property in the IVP directly. The assessor does not need to enter it into the tool.
Q. What happens if the determination is made too late to revise the school tax bill?
A. The property owner must pay the school tax amount due in full to avoid a penalty. ORPTS will issue a differential check to the property owner.
Q. What are common reasons for good cause applications to be filed?
A. Many property owners do not understand they can turn 65 years of age any time during the year for which they are seeking the Enhanced STAR exemption. For example, many think they have to be 65 by the application due date; actually, they must turn 65 by December 31 to qualify for that year’s exemption.
Illness and COVID concerns are also common reasons provided by property owners.
Q. What happens if the property owner is eligible but misses the deadline to apply for a good cause extension?
A. The property owner will still receive the Basic STAR exemption and should file for the Enhanced exemption with the assessor in time to receive it the following year. If the property owner wants to make the switch to the STAR credit program for the 2022-23 school year, they must do so by December 31, 2022. If the value of the STAR credit is more than the exemption they received, the difference will be added to the STAR credit check issued the following year. For details, visit Giving up a STAR exemption.
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, where an application for the "enhanced" STAR exemption authorized by subdivision four of this section has not been filed on or before the taxable status date, and the owner believes that good cause existed for the failure to file the application by that date, the owner may, no later than the last day for paying school taxes without incurring interest or penalty, submit a written request to the commissioner asking him or her to extend the filing deadline and grant the exemption. Such request shall contain an explanation of why the deadline was missed, and shall be accompanied by an application, reflecting the facts and circumstances as they existed on the taxable status date. After consulting with the assessor, the commissioner may extend the filing deadline and grant the exemption if the commissioner is satisfied that (i) good cause existed for the failure to file the application by the taxable status date, and that (ii) the applicant is otherwise entitled to the exemption. The commissioner shall mail notice of his or her determination to such owner and the assessor. If the determination states that the commissioner has granted the exemption, the assessor shall thereupon be authorized and directed to correct the assessment roll accordingly, or, if another person has custody or control of the assessment roll, to direct that person to make the appropriate corrections. Provided, however, that if the assessment roll cannot be corrected in time for the exemption to appear on the applicant's school tax bill, the commissioner shall be authorized to remit directly to the applicant the tax savings that the STAR exemption would have yielded if it had appeared on the applicant's tax bill. The amounts so payable shall be paid from the account established for the payment of STAR benefits to late registrants pursuant to subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (a) of subdivision fourteen of this section.