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PRESENT WILL PRESS FOR CONFIDENTIALITY OF STAR PROGRAM

State Sen. Jess J. Present announced Wednesday he will sponsor legislation to preserve the confidentiality of income information related to the STAR program.

The School Tax Relief program has raised concerns among senior citizens, according to the Bemus Point Republican, deputy majority leader of the State Senate.

"It is my understanding that there are no rules and regulations currently in place to protect the privacy of income tax returns submitted to verify eligibility for a STAR exemption," Present said. "Many seniors are worried about this lack of protection. This information certainly should remain classified, and I am introducing legislation to ensure confidentiality."

Present's bill would make it unlawful to divulge the income or any other information on STAR applications. These documents also would become exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Law.

"Property owners should not be deterred from applying for a STAR exemption," he added.Applicants must be 65 or older with an income under $60,000 to be eligible for the senior STAR exemption next year.

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