Fee Scam Targets New York Homeowners

The latest scam aimed at new homeowners involves a legitimate New York State property tax relief program. This fee scam targets New York homeowners who are eligible to apply for the School Tax Relief (STAR) property tax exemption. The trick here is that you don’t need anyone to help you do this. You can apply for FREE.


Photo by ConsumerMojo.com
Photo by ConsumerMojo.com

The scam came to light when new homeowners reported they received letters with offers to enroll them in the STAR program for a substantial fee that, in some cases, equals the full amount of the first-year savings.  



Generally, homeowners will save from $700 to $3,000 annually through STAR. Senior Citizens in the Lower Hudson Valley and on Long Island benefit the most from this tax exemption.


Courtesy Wikimedia
Courtesy Wikimedia


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “New Yorkers should not be fooled: registration to the STAR Program is free, convenient, and provides taxpayers with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars in property tax relief each year. I encourage any homeowner not receiving a STAR exemption to apply on their own and avoid disingenuous schemes that seek to charge you for the tax relief that is rightfully yours.”



STAR exemptions are the only property tax exemptions funded by New York State and the program includes two types of exemptions:

  • Basic STAR for homeowners with incomes under $500,000.
  • Enhanced STAR for senior citizens with incomes under $81,900.


The deadline to register for the STAR Program is December 31, 2013. 

To apply for STAR:

  • Outside of New York City, homeowners should submit an application to their local assessor’s office.
  • New York City has a separate form, which homeowners can request by calling 311 if they do not have Internet access.


Even if you are already enrolled, to get the tax break you need to check back in with the New York State Tax Department.  
In a study, the Tax Department found that while the law allows tax breaks only to homeowners for their primary residences, thousands of owners of multiple properties are receiving more than one STAR exemption. So the state is trying to clean up the problem. And that means you have to do a little work.


  • Register online at www.tax.ny.gov. The material is available in seven languages.
  • Call 518-457-2036 to register by phone.




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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.