MERRICK - The STAR tax rebate program is designed to save New Yorkers money, but some Long Island residents say a local company is charging them to file their STAR applications.

Jodie Insinga, of Merrick, says she got a bill for $1,400 from STAR Exemption Advisor in East Meadow. A few months earlier, the company sent her a STAR application for her to fill out.

She didn't realize that the company had also sent a contract that said it would file the form for her for the $1,400 fee. Officials say filing a STAR application is free and that there is no need to use a third party. The company is legal, however.

Insinga is challenging the fee and is being taken to small claims court by the company.

Officials say it is important that homeowners carefully read all documents before signing anything, especially STAR applications.

STAR Exemption Advisor did not return calls for comment.