ALBANY – This year’s property-tax-rebate checks will start hitting mailboxes in New York in mid-November, state officials said.
The latest round of checks will be for a portion of homeowners' school taxes and average about $179 per household.
The tax department said it will take several months for all 2 million checks to be issued. So the distribution will run into early 2018.
"The property tax relief credit directly reduces your property tax burden if you are a qualifying homeowner," the state Department of Taxation and Finance said on its website.
The checks supplant "property-tax freeze" checks that had gone out the past three years for the annual increase in school and municipal taxes.
What will you get?
The program -- called the property tax relief credit -- applies to homeowners with an adjusted gross household income of $275,000 or less. Also, the local school district had to stay under the property-tax cap.
Last year, the four-year, $1.3 billion program started with a flat amount: $185 for upstate residents and $130 downstate.
But this year, it provides larger checks to homeowners with lower incomes.
Now it's a rebate based on a percentage of what you get back each year through STAR, which is the $3 billion state program that provides a savings on school taxes.
For those making under $75,000, the rebate will be equal to 28 percent of the STAR savings.
For example, if you get $1,000 a year off your school taxes through STAR, you would get a check for $280.
The percentage drops for higher incomes: Between $75,000 and $150,000, the check is for 20.5 percent of the STAR break; and 5.5 percent for between $200,000 and $275,000.
In the last two years of the program, the checks will get larger: In 2019, it will get as high as 85 percent back for those earning less than $75,000.
Senior citizens receive Enhanced STAR, and they will also get a check: for 12 percent of the STAR rebate, growing to 34 percent in 2019.
What about STAR checks?
The tax-relief checks come after the tax department last summer starting mailing out 195,000 STAR rebate to new homeowners, which went out as checks for the first time last year.
Those who bought their homes after August 2015 get a STAR check for the savings on their school taxes, rather than seeing the savings upfront in their tax bills.
STAR is available on homeowners' primary residence for those with income of $500,000 or less.
The program struggled last year, but improved this year as the tax department better adjusted to it.
"Those property owners who have registered should have received a check or a letter from us at this point," said tax department spokesman James Gazzale. "If they have not and if they believe they are eligible, they can contact us."
People should have received their check in time to pay their school taxes, which for most of the state is Sept. 30. Last year, checks went out late, leaving people struggling to pay their full tax bill.
But tax assessors said the state didn't have the same problems this year.
The tax department "should be commended for making this a priority and fixing what was a broke system they were forced to put into place in such a short time frame last year," said Jay Franklin, the tax assessor in Tompkins County, who was critical of the situation last year.
What do I have to do?
The tax department will automatically mail the property tax relief credit checks to you.
But be patient, the process will take a few months, and the state hasn't said when each area of New York will get them first.
For more information, visit: tax.ny.gov/pit/property/property-tax-relief.htm
If you're a new homeowner, you should have applied and received a check for your STAR rebate. That's if you're income eligible and if you school taxes were already due.
To register or for more information, visit: www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/default.htm