This month, some residents of Oceanside and taxpayers in the Oceanside School District received checks in the mail from the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, but they aren’t sure why — or why their neighbors received more or less than they did.
“All I can really tell you is how much my check was,” said Diane Soren Coan, who received $93. “I don’t know anything else about this.”
Soren Coan is a recipient of the state’s School Tax Relief, or STAR, program, which runs from 2016 to 2019. To be eligible, homeowners must make under $275,000 annually and pay school property taxes to a district whose budget falls within the state property-tax levy cap, according to the state’s website.
However, Soren Coan said, “One person said they received $13, and another said $800.” She said she believed the disparity seems unfair. “More is always better,” she said. “I would like to have gotten $800.”
Michael Patisso said he did not receive anything in the mail, but noticed a $1,273 deduction from the school taxes he paid — via STAR — a “decent amount,” he said. His household’s income range is between $75,000 and $150,000, he added. Patisso said he paid around $11,000 in taxes (after the STAR deduction).
Another taxpayer, who wished to remain anonymous, said she paid $11,400 in school taxes after a STAR reduction of $1,230. She said her household income range is around $110,000 and mentioned she received a check in the mail for $763. “I’m pretty happy with the amount,” she said. “Our taxes are pretty ridiculous.”
Taxpayers received or will receive two different rebates starting this month: STAR and property tax relief credit, according to Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead receiver of taxes. While STAR is more complicated and differs from home to home, 2018 property tax relief is based on qualifying homeowners’ 2016 incomes, according to the state website.
If their net amount of loss reported doesn’t exceed $3,000, and the aggregate amount of all losses doesn’t surpass $15,000, as per their federal adjusted gross income, then they received a check in the mail.
“That is calculated off of what your STAR savings is,” Clavin said. “It’s a scaled amount, and it’s a sliding scale based on your salary . . . It’s set by the state.”
The state website reads those making $75,000 or less will receive 60 percent of their STAR savings in the form of property tax relief credit; 42.5 percent for those making between $75,000 and $150,000; 25 percent for those making between $150,000 and $200,000; and 7.5 percent for those making between $200,000 and $275,000. These taxpayers are considered Basic STAR recipients; those who are 65 or older and making less than $86,300 annually are considered Enhanced STAR recipients and will receive 26 percent, regardless of their income.
The rebate only comes if the school district stays under the tax levy cap, which Oceanside did this year. The total proposed expenditures for the next school year is roughly $154 million and the tax levy — the portion of the budget raised through residential and commercial property taxes — was pegged at $123 million, a 2.9 percent increase, the maximum allowed by the state.
“I have heard that some residents did not receive one because they grieved their taxes and their bill actually went down,” said Chris Van Cott, assistant superintendent of business for the Oceanside School District. “If that’s the case, they most likely will not receive a rebate check.”
He added he was not aware of the specifics, but said it depended on whether their taxes increased. “Our job was to stay within the cap to make the rebate checks applicable, and the district did,” Van Cott said.
In Oceanside, taxpayers pay property taxes to the school district “predominantly,” according to a source from ReduceMyNYPropertyTaxes.com, who claims to be a “qualified tax grievance reviewer” with a broker’s license.
He said because the district has no local government, there is no village tax, which usually goes toward departments such as the local police and public works. It therefore cannot be compared to places like Rockville Centre, Valley Stream or Lynbrook. “You’re not comparing apples to apples,” he noted.
Instead, it is better compared to its areas like Baldwin, Merrick and Hewlett.
Going forward, he advised taxpayers to stay cautious of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last December. “Anybody that pays a combined SALT [state and local tax] above $10,000 [will be affected] … because you can’t deduct any more over that,” he noted.
Oceanside taxpayers, over 73 percent of whom carry tax amounts above the $10,000 cap — a figure that is rising — according to data provided to the Herald last year by real estate agent Andy Yakubovsky, will not notice changes, if any, until they file next year.