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Wishing upon STAR

A lot of homeowners in Western New York are making anxious trips to check the mailbox this month, looking for a STAR rebate check from the New York State. Read the story here.

   STAR is an acronym for the state's School Tax Relief Program, and any homeowner can apply. STAR rebate checks typically arrive in the summer months, not in the fall.

   But not this year.

   Though the state Department of Taxation and Finance notified homeowners that it would begin mailing checks Sept. 29, the change has thrown some financially strained residents, who were counting on the checks to help pay their school taxes this month.

   Recently, deadlines to apply for a STAR exemption have changed, too, from May 1 to March 1 for those who must apply annually for the program. Some people getting STAR do need to apply, others don't.

   Homeowners who get either Basic STAR or Enhanced STAR are confused by all these changes, say local tax assessors. And they say they have been swamped lately with phone calls from their residents needing help.

   Have you had any difficulties or been confused by changes in the STAR program?

    --- Irene Liguori

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