Friday, December 21, 2018

Senior Citizens Exemption for STAR program

This week, my column is about the Senior Citizens Exemption for the STAR program. A special thank you to Jill Lederhouse from the Town of Lockport for asking me to help spread the word about some of the changes for 2019. She wants residents to know that to renew your 2019 exemption will require a few extra steps – but don’t worry, your Assessor’s office is there to help you. First, a few of the basics. Local governments and school districts in New York State can opt to grant a reduction on the amount of property taxes paid by qualifying senior citizens. This is accomplished by reducing the taxable assessment of the senior's home. To qualify, seniors generally must be 65 years of age or older and meet certain income limitations and other requirements. You must own the property for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the date of filing for the senior citizens exemption, unless you received the exemption for your previous residence. Please check with your local assessor or city/town clerk to determine what is in effect for your municipality. To apply or reapply for the senior citizens exemption, you will need to file the applicable form with your assessor. There are three simple forms that will need to be signed and returned: Step 1: You will sign for RP-425 Rnw to apply for the Enhanced STAR portion of your exemption. Step 2: You will have to sign RP-425-IVP, providing your Social Security. Step 3: Renew your Senior Citizens Exemption. Providing current (2018) income or a filed 2017 Tax Return. Steps 1 & 2 should not have to be repeated in the future. If the State has any issues in determining your eligibility for the Enhanced STAR portion of your exemption, they will contact you, either by mail or phone. What is considered income for the Senior Citizens Exemption? The exemption requires the Assessors follow Real Property Tax Law, and not the IRS Tax Law. Therefore, the Assessors will be looking for items such as: - Annual Earnings Statement on IRA accounts, non-taxable, however invested (Interest, Dividends or Capital Gains) - Annuity Payments, including IRAs (Form 1099) - Income from Estates or Trusts - Interest or Dividends bearing Savings and/or Checking Accounts - Investment Interest or Dividends, including non-taxable bonds and IRAs - Capital Gains from sale or exchange of investments - Self-Employment NET income (must show both income and expenses) - Rental Income and Expenses (including room & board or other funds from other residents or family members sharing expenses of the dwelling) - Alimony or Support Payments - Unemployment Insurance Payments - Disability Payments (including VA Benefits and/or Railroad Benefits) - Worker’s Compensation - Lottery / Gambling winnings - Pensions (including VA or NYS Pension (ex: teacher or state employee) - December’s month-end statements may be required to show interest Lederhouse says, “I want to help get the word out that coming into 2019, renewing your exemptions requires a few extra steps. But, please don’t let this concern you, we are here to help you. Please contact your assessor’s office if you have questions.” The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 67 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot.

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