Archive for August 2013

NYS STAR (SCHOOL TAX REDUCTION) REBATES — Re-registration is Required

August 22, 2013

On August 19th New York opened the re-registration period for the “STAR” property-tax rebate for upstate homeowners, but downstate homeowners will have to wait a few more weeks.

The massive process of sending notifications to about 2.6 million homeowners is being carried out in stages.  Notices about how to re-register will be sent to residents of Long Island, New York City and Westchester County between Sept. 16 and Oct. 4.

Regardless of where you live, homeowners will have until Dec. 31 to re-apply for the STAR rebate.


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislators passed a law last spring requiring the re-registration. They are trying to reduce fraud indicating that too many people have been receiving improper STAR (School Tax Reduction) rebates for second homes. The deductions are intended for primary residencies only.  Under the new law, the state will create a database that will make it easier to spot cheaters.

The STAR program is open to owner-occupied, primary residences, where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less. The average STAR benefit is $700.

Once the enrollment period begins for a region, residents will receive a letter containing a STAR “code” that will be used to register.

Senior citizens who are already enrolled in the “Enhanced STAR” program aren’t affected by the new STAR requirement. However, they must continue to apply annually for Enhanced STAR or participate in the tax department’s income verification program.

For more information on the re-registration, click here: STAR REBATE INFORMATION

If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding the STAR re-registration, or have any legal issues of concern you would like to discuss, please contact our firm.

Do You Actually Need a Lawyer?

August 8, 2013

Sometimes it’s easy to know if you need to find an attorney. If you’ve been charged with a crime, been served with a lawsuit, or need a divorce – a lawyer is exactly what you need. Lawyers, however, aren’t just for criminals or those in litigation. Qualified attorneys can also provide advice and knowledge to people who just need to talk to an expert.
A skilled lawyer’s advice can help you understand the complex rules associated with business negotiations and partnerships, estate planning, will and trust drafting, tax strategies and much more.

Lawyers improve their clients’ quality of life by protecting them from situations that might later bring emotional and financial hardship. A good, high-quality lawyer is there to help those in trouble now and those who want to avoid trouble in the future. 

Many people view legal representation as an all-or-nothing proposition: either you cede control of your issue to an experienced professional or take care of it yourself. While both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, there is a middle ground. Preparing a document by yourself, and then having it reviewed by a lawyer can save you a significant amount of money in addition to having the peace of mind provided by a seasoned lawyer.

In less serious matters, self representation may also be an option. You may be able to resolve a minor legal dispute by writing letters or negotiating informally, or in a “small claims” court if the dispute has a value less than or equal to a certain amount (perhaps $5,000). Be sure to check with your local court for applicable “small claims” limits
 When in doubt, it is best to speak with a lawyer.

If you have any legal issues of concern you would like to discuss, please contact our firm.