BELLMORE - A Bellmore homeowner says he's out $1,200 after he unwittingly hired a firm to file paperwork for him.
The form was for the STAR tax exemption, and he was charged a fee that was equal to his STAR discount by a private advisory company.
Phil Ottaviano says he received a form in the mail about the STAR tax exemption from Nassau Star Exemption Advisor. He filled out the paperwork, but didn't read the part of the form that says that if Star Advisor filed for him, he would incur a fee equal to the savings received through the tax relief discount.
Ottaviano didn't pay the fee, and the company took him to court. He lost the case and in the end was ordered to pay $1,200.
County officials say it's free to file for the STAR tax exemption, and the form can be downloaded online without the help of outside companies. Still, the service that the advisory company offers is legal, officials say.
It appears that suing homeowners who don't pay for the filing service is big business. In court Friday, News 12 saw five separate such cases on the docket.
County officials say it's important that homeowners who are filing for STAR read all paperwork carefully before sending anything in.
"If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I would bring it myself to the county, and make sure that they know that I'm filing it, and that I have proof from the county," Ottaviano says.
News 12 attemped to contact of STAR Exemption Advisor owner Arie Gal for comment, but was unable to reach him.