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Gov. Hutchinson: Prepayment of Property Taxes up to County Officials

28 December 2017

Hundreds of Orange County residents anxious about changes in the new tax law have called the tax collector's office asking if they can pay their 2018 property taxes in advance to claim the full deduction.

Luzerne County resident Tom Benz wanted to prepay his 2018 real estate taxes this week, but county officials said early payments are not permissible by state law.

More: Prepaying your property taxes? Homeowners apparently hope to see a benefit by paying now before the new tax law caps state and local deductions. Because of this significant change, many taxpayers have been asking about pre-paying 2018 property taxes in 2017.

A spokesman for Keystone Collections, which is based in Westmoreland County, said tax collectors are not permitted under state law to accept payments until they have a bill in hand from the taxing authority. Taxpayers in California's Santa Clara county, for example, may only pre-pay the second installment of the 2017-2018 taxes, which is due in April.

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Not every municipality has allowed prepayments so far.

The same scene is playing out across the Garden State, although there remain unanswered questions about whether the federal government will accept early payments or, whether municipalities can come up with accurate numbers for next year's taxes with just days left in 2017. As of this time, the city has only issued tax statements for the first two quarters of 2018. Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on December 31, 2017, and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer's 2017 return.

New Jersey is home to the nation's highest property taxes, and there is now no limit in how much homeowners can claim in property taxes on their federal income tax returns. Some families, such as those who have paid off their homes, would maximize deductions one year and file the short form the next to take advantage of both methods.

Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph says he's getting hundreds of calls from residents who want to pay next year's taxes early so they can take a bigger deduction next year.

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Lower Merion Township posted a message to residents on its website stating that, in response to "numerous inquiries from residents", the township's lawyers reviewed the matter and agreed with the county's position on state law.

County and municipal tax bills have not been generated yet, in part because some of the 76 municipalities are still in the process of setting their 2018 tax rates, Beers said.

Several towns in New Jersey are accepting prepaid taxes. Rockland County first gave its towns the green light to start collecting next year's taxes on Wednesday afternoon, following an executive order issued last week by Governor Andrew Cuomo allowing counties to do so.

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Gov. Hutchinson: Prepayment of Property Taxes up to County Officials