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MANY IN CITY FORCED TO BEAT THE CLOCK ON TAX EXEMPTION

Everybody in New York State knows about the STAR tax exemption, right?

Politicians from the governor on down have been touting the new property tax break for more than a year. City officials met with block clubs this year, mailed application forms to homeowners and signed up residents at senior citizens centers.

So why is everybody so late in filing?

Armed with excuses, hundreds of city residents showed up today in the Buffalo assessor's office -- little more than 24 hours before the deadline to apply for the state's most-publicized tax break.

Their top ten reasons for being tardy?

"Laziness," said downtown resident Mary Lou Kehoe, perhaps the most honest woman in town.

"I thought I could walk down here real quick and file. I thought everybody would have done this already," she said.

A close second was Patrick Dolan of Riverside, who responded: "Stupidness. I just put it off."

"I had something else to do," claimed Theodore Houston, who lives on the East Side.

Some said they were confused about the program, which offers tax breaks this year to all homeowners for their primary residences.

"I read the paper three times and thought it was for senior citizens only, but a friend told me no," University resident Carolyn Clark said.

Nobody used the old standby about the dog eating the forms, but several people said they just discovered the application in the stack on the kitchen table.

"I forgot. I just found it while I was looking through the mail for something else," claimed June Thompson of the Fillmore District.

"It has been all ready and sitting on the kitchen table for about a month and a half, but by husband works during the day, and I didn't have a way downtown," claimed Judy Riccio of South Buffalo.

Sean Lauck, who lives in the University District, shrugged off the deadline question, claiming he "just heard about it (STAR) a month ago . . . I just got it in the mail in October," he said.

Some of the excuses sounded compelling, including a number of people who said they were sick or couldn't take time out from working double shifts.

"I was sick. I just got out of my bed to come down here," Ella Huff of Central Park claimed.

Janet Wolff of Herkimer Street said she was working two jobs and that her son reminded her on Thanksgiving Day the deadline was approaching.

"I'm just a procrastinator. I have an 18-month-old and I couldn't find the deed," explained Carolyn Balkin of North Buffalo.

Finally, several late filers blamed family members -- most often a spouse.

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