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UPDATE: Previously, this story reported that that the City of Ithaca did not stay below the tax cap as required for this rebate program. This was based on data compiled by the Syracuse Post-Standard, sourced by the state comptroller’s office.

Mayor Svante Myrick has informed us that the data was in error, and the city did not increase property taxes at all this year, thus meeting the tax cap requirement. If this information is correct, qualified city homeowners should receive the full rebate amount.

ITHACA, NY – Some Tompkins residents will miss out on at least part of a state-sponsored “tax freeze” rebate.

Homeowners living in the towns of Caroline and Ulysses may not see as big of a rebate as other Tompkins residents, according to data compiled by the Syracuse Post-Standard.

In 2014, New York State launched the Property Tax Freeze initiative to help ease the tax burden on citizens. In its first year, the rebate applied only to school taxes. In 2015, it applies to both school and property taxes.

The rebate reimburses recipients for the increase in taxes assessed by the locality, the county and the school district a person lives in.

Eligibility for this rebate program requires two things:

1. You must receive the STAR property tax exemption (meaning the property must be the homeowner’s primary residence and your total household income must be $500,000 or less).

2. Your home must be located in a taxing jurisdiction that has complied with the New York State Property Tax Cap.

That second stipulation is the trouble for Caroline and Ulysses. Since the three municipalities did not stay under the tax cap this year, residents of those places get no relief from taxes assessed by those entities.

How much is being lost?

It’s important to note that if you’re otherwise qualified, there’s still a rebate on the way. Since Tompkins County and all of it’s school districts met the requirements, eligible residents will still receive a rebate for tax increases from the county and school district.

The exact amount of the rebate is based on the value of one’s home and the tax rate. According to the Post-Standard report, the average check will be $350, but bear in mind this factors in higher-taxed properties in New York City.

While Tompkins County has some of the highest average property taxes in upstate New York according to data from CNN Money, it comes nowhere near the taxes downstate homeowner’s pay. Some downstate counties approach triple the average property tax of Tompkins.

The Post-Standard reporter who compiled the report said her rebate check last year for her Syracuse property valued at $98,000 totaled $18, although that was only including a school tax rebate. She anticipates no more than $40 this year. Numbers for Tompkins residents may be in similar ranges.

Regardless, most homeowners can look forward to a check sometime in the next couple of months – it just might not be as it could’ve been.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.