LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Cuomo Targeting Enhanced STAR Deduction
Philip Weiden | March 3, 2021
The Enhanced STAR program for seniors (65+) is under attack again in the governor’s proposed budget. This could negatively impact seniors who qualify for the program. In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal he would move new homeowners aged 65 and over to a tax credit check instead of an upfront savings on their tax bill. This is a maneuver that would help the governor’s budget.
In another facet of the proposed 2% increase in the benefit each year for those who previously agreed to receiving their STAR savings in the form of a check as opposed to an upfront reduction of their school tax bill would lose that saving. This aspect of the proposal has been widely criticized by lawmakers. The attack on the STAR program continues after changes were made in previous years in which the upfront savings were eliminated in favor of a check for those making above $250,000. Enhanced STAR can lead to savings of up to $1,500 per year for those who utilize it.
By making this change the state would be able to save an estimated $100 million per year. By issuing a check the state would not have to count the exemption as a loss of revenue as it does with the tax bill deduction. Instead, the state would collect the tax revenues directly and send out the check rather than the school districts providing the upfront savings on the tax bill. The checks would no longer be considered spending on the part of the state. They would instead be considered as a decrease in tax revenue. This would make the fiscal picture of the state look better than it is in reality.
Finally, homeowners who receive the check instead of the upfront savings end up having to put more money into escrow. Homeowners would ultimately get this money back if they’ve overpaid, however, they would be losing money each month until that time. This is an important issue. Stay tuned for updates on this issue.