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Department of Taxation and Finance

Enhanced STAR Income Verification Program: Questions and answers for assessors

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Applications

Q: What forms must property owners file in the first year of the program?

A: Property owners who currently receive the Enhanced STAR exemption and participate in the Income Verification Program (IVP) are not required to file any forms for 2019. 

Property owners who currently receive Enhanced STAR but do not participate in the IVP must file:

A property owner who currently receives Basic STAR but is eligible to receive Enhanced STAR must file:

Q: If a property owner is already in the IVP, do they have to file a new Form RP-425-IVP?

A: No. Enhanced STAR recipients who are already in the IVP are not required to take any action. If the Tax Department requires additional information, we will contact recipients directly.

Q: After the first year, are property owners required to renew their Enhanced STAR exemption annually?

A: No. Enhanced STAR recipients are no longer required to file an annual renewal form.

Q: If a property owner applies for the 2019 Enhanced STAR exemption but does not submit Form RP-425-IVP, can we grant the Enhanced STAR exemption?

A: No. However, the property owner will continue to receive Basic STAR if they are eligible.

Q: Can the Tax Department combine the Enhanced STAR and IVP applications?

A: We are considering this for future years.

Q: Can you combine the Enhanced STAR and IVP applications?

A: We are considering this for future years.

Q: If a property owner who is not currently in the IVP was previously enrolled, do they need file a new application?

A: Yes.

Q:  If a property owner is not required to file income taxes, are they required to file Form RP-425-IVP?

A: Yes. Property owners must file Form RP-425-IVP to authorize the Tax Department to verify income for eligibility. We will contact the property owner directly if we need additional information.

Q: What do I do if a property owner already applied for the 2019 Enhanced STAR exemption using the 2018 Form RP-425-E and did not elect to participate in the IVP?

A: You may process the application, but advise the property owner to also file Form RP-425-IVP; otherwise, they are only eligible for Basic STAR.

Q: How is the Tax Department handling undetermined income?

A: If we are unable to verify income, the Tax Department contacts the applicant to collect additional information.

Q: Whose Social Security numbers must be included on Form RP-425-IVP?

A: The form must include the Social Security numbers for all owners and any owner’s spouse who resides on the property.

Q: How does an Amish property owner or one without a Social Security number apply for the IVP?

A: The individual should submit to you Form RP-425-IVP and RP-425-E or RP-425-Rnw. In the first year, you’ll make the determination as whether the property owner is eligible for the exemption, including whether their income qualifies. We’ll provide you with a way to transmit the form to us so that we can determine income eligibility in future years.

Q: Is the taxable status date application deadline still in effect?

A: Yes.

Q: Can property owners still use Form RP-425-Wkst?

A: Yes. Property owners who do not file income tax returns must file this form with you.

Q: What Social Security Numbers should be included on Form RP-425-IVP for trusts and life estates?

A: In a trust ownership, eligibility for the exemption is based on the status of the beneficiary. In a life estate, eligibility is based on the status of the life estate holder. They are considered the owners for exemption purposes and must provide their Social Security numbers for income verification.


Processing

Q: Will the schedule of reporting and editing in the IVP tool change compared to prior years?

A: Yes. The tool will no longer close for reporting purposes. It will be available year-round for editing, and we will publish reports periodically in the Online  Assessment Community.  We will make you aware of scheduled outages for system maintenance.

Q: If a property in the IVP changes ownership due to death or other reason, should I update the information in the IVP tool?

A: Yes. Please delete deceased taxpayers and update records where there have been primary residence or owner changes.

Q: How do we handle applications for mobile homes and co-ops?

A: Applications to enroll mobile homes and co-ops in the IVP are handled like applications for other property types. Property owners must file the proper forms and provide income information.

Q: Can we still add applicants to the IVP for a prior year roll?

A: Yes.  If either of the following special circumstances apply, you may continue to add applicants to the IVP database.

  • your municipality levies the 2019 school tax against the prior year's roll, or
  • a local law - RPTL 425(6)(d) - has been passed to authorize placement of a STAR exemption on the prior (i.e., 2018) roll based on a qualifying application for the current year's taxable status date.

Q: Does this law change affect the removal of STAR at time of sale?

A: No.  When there is a change in ownership after taxable status date, STAR exemptions remain on the roll until the next assessment roll.

Q: Can I make corrections in the IVP tool after you determine eligibility?

A: Yes. You should update the IVP tool as you become aware of changes in ownership or residency.

Q. How will the Tax Department process taxpayers whose names are not consistent on the applicable forms?  For example, a married couple has John J. Doe and Jane M. Doe on the IVP application but J. Joseph Doe and J. Mary Doe on their income tax return?

A. The Tax Department uses the first three characters of the last name and the Social Security number to make a match. In this case, since the last name is consistent, it will not cause an issue. Whenever taxpayers' last names are inconsistent and cause a mismatch (for example, a couple uses married names on their IVP form and maiden names on their income tax return), ORPTS will resolve the issue manually. To avoid mismatches, assessors should encourage taxpayers to enter their names on their IVP forms as they appear on their income tax returns.


Determinations

Q: Aside from income eligibility, is the Tax Department determining income eligibility for other purposes (e.g., residency, ownership)?

A: The Tax Department is only determining income eligibility. Assessors will continue to determine other eligibility factors.

Q: If a property owner becomes ineligible for Enhanced STAR for a year due to income, do I remove them from the IVP?

A: No. The IVP is mandatory for Enhanced STAR applicants. They should remain in the IVP so we can review their income for eligibility annually. 

Q: How do you determine income for property owners who do not file taxes?

A: The Tax Department has access to other sources of income, and we will contact property owners if we need additional information.

Q: What if the Tax Department determines the property owner is income eligible, but I determine they are ineligible for another reason?

A: The Tax Department is only determining income eligibility. If you determine the owner is ineligible for another reason, you should deny the exemption.


Notifications

Q: Do I need to notify property owners of the Tax Department’s determinations? 

A: No. If the Tax Department determines that a property owner is not income eligible, we'll notify them by mail and inform them of their right to appeal.

Q: Do I need to continue sending Enhanced STAR renewal notices annually?

A: No. The law no longer requires you to send renewal and determination notices.


Communications

Q: What outreach materials will the Tax Department provide about the new IVP requirement?

A: The department will provide pamphlets and posters for local government offices. We will also provide content for local websites, newsletters, and legislative mailings.

Q: When will updated pamphlets be available?

A: We expect to send the pamphlets to assessors and county directors in August.

Q: Is there assistance available for seniors who are confused or have dementia?

A: The law authorizes assessors to assist senior citizens with the IVP upon request.

Q: Will you notify all current Enhanced STAR recipients of the change to filing requirements?

A: We will notify property owners if we determine that they are not eligible for Enhanced STAR, or if we need additional information. However, we will provide you with renewal letter templates that include information about the changes. You have the option to send renewal letters.


Assessment review

Q: Do local Boards of Assessment Review (BAR) have authority to review the Tax Department’s determination?

A: No. Property owners must appeal the Tax Department’s determination to the Tax Department. If an applicant disagrees with the appeal determination, they have the right to appeal to the State Board of Real Property Tax Services.

Q: If I deny a property owner’s application for the Enhanced STAR exemption because of residency or other eligibility criteria, does the denial go through the BAR?

A: Yes. The BAR has the authority to review your denials.

Q: Does the law change impact refunds in Small Claims Assessment Review and tax certiorari cases?

A: The new mandatory IVP requirement makes no change to the way assessment review judgments are administered.


Senior citizens exemption

Q: Do I need to determine eligibility for the senior citizens exemption differently because of the law change?

A: No. You will continue to determine eligibility for the senior citizens exemption as you have in the past.

Q: If the Tax Department determines a senior is not eligible for Enhanced STAR due to income, should I deny that senior’s application for the senior citizens exemption?

A: No. The qualifications and income years are different for the two exemptions.

Q: Can the Tax Department share income information with assessors to assist us in determining eligibility for the senior citizens exemption?

A: No. The law does not authorize the Tax Department to share information about income eligibility for exemptions other than Basic and Enhanced STAR.

Q: What forms must a senior file to apply for the senior citizens exemption?

A: A senior should file Form RP-467 in the initial year of application and Form RP-467-RNW in subsequent years. They must include tax returns or other income-verifying documentation each time they file . 


STAR credit

Q: Does the IVP requirement affect the STAR credit program?

A: No. The STAR credit is a separate program. The Tax Department already determines income eligibility for STAR credit recipients.

Q: Are Enhanced STAR recipients being moved to the credit program?

A: No. Current Enhanced STAR exemption recipients remain in the exemption program unless they choose to switch to the credit program.


Security

Q: Is the IVP tool secure?

A: Yes. The tool is highly secure. The Tax Department is charged with processing and guarding the information of millions of taxpayers. Similar standards and practices are in place for the IVP tool.

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