State Cracks Down On Fraud And Abuse Of Programs

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ALBANY – New York State officials are cracking down on tax relief fraud and abuse.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he is unveiling a comprehensive plan to crack down on those who abuse the School Tax Relief program and the STAR Income Verification Program.

Cuomo, in a statement to the media, said those found abusing the system will face a six-year ban on such programs.

“The STAR program provides a substantial benefit to property owners, and those who seek to profit at the expense of honest New Yorkers must be held accountable,” said Cuomo. “This aggressive policy to combat fraud once again sends a clear message that New York has zero tolerance for anyone who cheats the system.”

New changes will also require those who fraud the system to repay the government.

In 2013, Cuomo enacted reforms to the STAR program to crack down on delinquent taxpayers, including barring property owners who made a material misstatement on a STAR exemption application from receiving the exemption for six years.

In 2015, the State Department of Taxation and Finance was authorized to recoup STAR benefits from property owners who unlawfully received those state benefits in past years, a power that previously resided with local assessors only.

Cuomo said the STAR program provides $3.4 billion in relief from school property taxes. It includes the Basic STAR benefit for homeowners with incomes under $500,000, and the Enhanced STAR benefit for seniors with income of $86,300 or less.

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