As GOP tax plan passes in Congress, taxpayers rushing to prepay property taxes for 2018

- On the heels of the passage of the Republican tax bill, tax offices are being flooded with people trying to pay their property taxes early. It is a move to try and avoid the loss of state and local tax deductions for 2018.

It’s been busy at Arlington County’s Treasurer’s Office as it has fielded 200 calls this week. Officials say pre-payments have doubled from 20 people on Tuesday to 40 people on Wednesday.

Chief Deputy Treasurer Kim Rucker said the week before Christmas is normally a quiet time, but not this year.

“We can definitely see a difference,” said Rucker. “It’s usually very slow, and as you noticed, there are quite a few people in line paying. On average, we may have two or three taxpayers who like to come in and prepay their taxes, but we are seeing many more of course this year."

When the GOP tax plan goes into effect on Jan. 1, it will cap deductions for state, local and property taxes at $10,000. If you pay a lot in real estate taxes, that could be a big blow.

But the theory is if you pay your property taxes before the bill takes effect, you could avoid the cap for one more year and possibly save yourself money.

In Arlington County, the deadlines for payments are usually on Oct. 5 and June 15. The Treasurer’s Office has seen steady lines all day on Wednesday as people try to take advantage of prepayment before New Year’s Day. Taxpayers told FOX 5 that even though details of the tax reform bill are still coming out, if prepaying saves them money, it is worth a try.

“Well, the worst thing that could happen is that I have paid in advance and I won’t have to pay it next year,” said Arlington County resident David Lakin. “The best thing that could happen is that I have deducted from my taxes when I file next year.”

Tax officials in Arlington County warn that they cannot offer any legal advice on this by law, so they cannot guarantee that you will save money by paying early. But other jurisdictions like Montgomery County in Maryland say they are moving to help people prepay their taxes before the end of the year.

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