ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- A legislative hearing was held Tuesday to discuss changes made to the School Tax Relief (STAR) program included in last year’s N.Y. budget.

Assemblywoman and member of the Committee on Real Property Taxation Sandy Galef (D-District 95), says the new rules are confusing for homeowners who now, depending on their income, will be receiving a check for STAR rebates.

STAR changes included in the 2019-2020 budget included lowering the STAR basic income limit to $250,000 for the STAR exemption program.

The STAR credit program is still available for residents making up to $500,000.

What may be confusing for residents is the distinction between the two programs. Those making between $250,000-$500,000 previously signed up for the STAR exemption program were automatically moved to the STAR credit program.

Further complicating the program, those STAR recipients signed up for the STAR exemption program making up to $250,000 are not required to sign up for the STAR credit program. They will continue to see their refunds taken directly off their school tax bills.

However, they can elect to sign up for the STAR credit program and may see a 2% increase in their refund by doing so.

Only residents that have owned their home for a number of years are part of the STAR exemption program. The program is closed for new recipients.

All new homeowners must sign up through the STAR credit program. Unlike the STAR exemption program that takes STAR refunds directly off of school tax bills, homeowners signed up through the STAR credit program receive a check.

President of the New York State Assessors Association, Scott Shedler, agreed with Galef in Tuesday’s hearings. He says 80% of the people he’s talked to across the state are unhappy with STAR program changes.

“Our concern is the public, the seniors, the average resident that sits in their home and counts on that check,” Shedler said. “They’re confused in the process and they’re confused of what’s going to be happening next,” he said.

Galef says some homeowners are left waiting on STAR program checks that aren’t arriving on time. She says this leaves residents having to come up with extra money in order to pay their school taxes.

More information about both the STAR exemption and STAR credit programs can be found here.