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A town hall meeting will be held in Bayside next week to discuss registration changes to a controversial school tax relief program.

The state’s STAR program provides a partial school tax exemption for most primary residences in which homeowners and their spouses make less than $500,000 combined.

But a recent audit by the state comptroller’s office found the STAR system rife with fraud and abuse.

Findings showed nearly 20 percent of exemptions from January 2010 to July 2011 were given by local assessors to ineligible residents.

The erroneous handouts cost the state $13 million that fiscal year, according to the audit.

To thwart the problem, a new law requires all homeowners who receive the basic exemption to register with the state’s Tax Department for ongoing benefits.

The need for renewal does not apply to seniors or those who receive enhanced STAR benefits. The change also does not affect current year exemptions.

Homeowners will not need to re-apply every year.

Those seeking more information can attend an October 2 informational meeting hosted by Assemblymember Nily Rozic.

The town hall will take place at 209-15 Horace Harding Expressway from 7 to 9 p.m.

There will be representatives on hand from multiple state and city agencies, as well as Chinese and Korean translators.

“Queens families depend on this tax relief program, and maintaining it is a priority,” Rozic said. “Protecting the STAR program from fraud allows these savings to continue to help families keep more money in their pockets.”

To register with the state’s Tax Department, which monitors eligibility, call 518-457-2036 or go to https://www8.tax.ny.gov/STRP/strpStart.

 

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