Take advantage of tax breaks

To the Editor: I was upset last week when I became aware of another local senior citizen who was not taking advantage of all the property tax exemptions they were entitled to and I decided to write this letter. There are two important exemptions which local seniors may qualify for. These exemptions are subtracted from your homes assessed valuation before the tax rate is applied. If you qualify, these exemptions can significantly reduce the amount of property taxes that you are required to pay. In many cases, these exemptions can completely eliminate the bill for school taxes that comes in September. Exemptions available to seniors: 1. Senior Aged All to qualify you must be 65 or older, your annual income is $30,400 or less, and your local home is your primary residence. If your annual income is $22,000 or less, this exemption will exclude 50 percent of your homes assessed value. For annual incomes between $22,001 and $30,400, the percentage exemption is reduced per a sliding scale. This exemption applies to both town and county taxes and to school taxes. 2. Enhanced STAR - to qualify you must be 65 or older, your annual income is less than $70,650 and your local home is your primary residence. In 2007, this exemption excluded $58,290 of assessment from school taxes for Ti seniors ($66,580 in Hague). These exemption amounts are reset every year. This exemption applies only to school taxes. If you are already receiving these exemptions, then there is no need to reapply. You only need to re-verify that your income still qualifies each year by completing and returning the verification form mailed to you by the town assessor; the Renewal Application for Partial Tax Exemption. If you have not been receiving either of these two exemptions, then you must complete and file an application with your local tax assessor. The application for the Senior Aged All exemption can also serve as your application for the Enhanced STAR exemption. No separate STAR application is needed. If you qualify for the Senior Aged All, then you will also qualify for and receive the Enhanced STAR. If not, you may well still qualify for the Enhanced STAR exemption. The deadline for both the initial application and the annual income verification is March 1. It is vital that all senior citizens, or their advisors, make sure that that the initial application and/or the income verification are completed and filed on a timely basis. John Bartlett

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