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10/21/2019 Assessment Community Weekly)

CenturyLink Communications LLC litigation

In the past few weeks we’ve received a number of questions about a tax certiorari proceeding that names numerous cities, towns, and villages throughout New York State.

CenturyLink Communications, LLC et. al. v. New York State Dept. of Tax. and Finance, Index No. 906348-2019, challenges a number of telecommunications assessment ceilings established by ORPTS in 2019.

If you receive litigation papers related to this case on behalf of your local government unit, you should immediately forward them to the municipal attorney. The Tax Department, through the Office of the Attorney General, will be defending the 2019 telecommunications assessment ceilings established by ORPTS.

Questions and answers about the STAR credit handout for new homeowners

Some of you have asked why we haven’t updated Publication RP-5310-FS for the 2020 STAR credit. The publication is used primarily by local officials, attorneys, and realtors to encourage new homeowners to register for the STAR credit.

What’s the issue?

Assessors who use the standard assessment calendar naturally assume that the publication should provide the necessary information to register for the 2020 STAR credit. However, the handout still references 2017 income tax returns. There’s a very good reason for that.

Unlike the STAR exemption and other property tax exemptions, you do not need to own your home on taxable status date to be eligible for the STAR credit. Instead, for the STAR credit (and the property tax relief credit), you must own your home and it must be your primary residence as of the last day to pay school taxes without interest or penalty.

Some localities that don’t use the standard assessment calendar have school tax due dates as late as mid-January. As such, the online registration for the STAR credit will continue to ask for 2017 income information until that time.

What about people who bought their homes too late for the 2019 STAR credit?

Homeowners who purchase their homes after the school tax due date should still register at their earliest convenience – and provide the requested income information. Our system will review their information and, since they’re not eligible for a 2019 STAR credit, begin sending them STAR credit checks in 2020 (as long as they remain eligible.)

Look for the new handout in mid-January when the registration system will begin requesting 2018 income information.

What if the seller received a STAR or property tax relief credit check?

Due to the timing of when we receive property sale information, sometimes we inadvertently send credit checks to individuals who sell their homes before the school tax due date. As you are likely aware, there can be a lag between the date a property sells and when that information is transmitted to us. If the seller receives a check they’re not eligible for, they should return it to this address with a brief note of explanation:

NYS Tax Department
Attn: Property Tax Credit Resolution Unit
W A Harriman Campus
Albany, NY 12227-0801

Top ten ways that ORPTS customer service teams can help new (and returning) assessors and directors

If you haven’t met your ORPTS customer service team, get in touch with them as soon as possible. Here are ten ways they can help.

  1. RPSV4 assistance. Your team can help you with almost any issue that arises in regards to the software.
  2. Legal questions. If you have a legal question that you or your municipal attorney can’t answer, contact your customer service team. If regional staff can’t answer your question, they’ll refer it to our attorneys.
  3. Reassessment support. Our team can help you identify resources, develop reassessment plans, conduct public information sessions, and more.
  4. Valuation expertise.  We can assist reassessment municipalities with running RPSV4 valuation.  We can offer advice and suggest  resources to value challenging properties.
  5. Assessor training. Each of our customer service teams include seasoned trainers. They can help to identify options to complete your required training, as well as provide informal training on most aspects of assessment administration.
  6. Challenging assessment administration questions. You name it—assessment roll balancing, tax processing, adjusted base proportions, STAR—our teams are there to help.
  7. Consultative assistance. Our liaisons can help you make decisions based on professional judgment, sound business knowledge, and nationally recognized standards and norms.
  8. Pre-decisional collaboration (PDC). Our teams can help to identify and train you in trends, ratios, tools and analysis to determine and review your level of assessment.
  9. Presentations to municipal boards. We can discuss the benefits of reassessment and other property tax-related matters with your municipal or county boards, and we can help you prepare presentations on similar topics.
  10. Full value measurement. Our regional experts can explain the market value survey, the equalization process, and the associated statistics.