Taxpayers rush to pre-pay property bill before deduction ends

Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 17:26:47-05

SACRAMENTO, CA (KCRA/CNN) - When the newly-signed tax bill takes effect, many taxpayers will lose a benefit that they are accustomed to having. That benefit applies to local property taxes, which can be deducted from federal taxes.

In anticipation of that, a lot of homeowners are rushing to pre-pay property taxes in states like California.

The line goes literally out the door at the Sacramento County property tax office on Tuesday where dozens of people are trying to take advantage of a tax break that's expiring, including Stephanie Christensen.

She was eager to pre-pay her property taxes before the rules change on Jan. 1. "I know we're going to get it in this year and we can write it off, but not sure about next year,” she said. 

And Christensen is not the only one trying to beat the deadline. "Getting a write-off on taxes. Ha,” said pre-payer Hayworth Louie.

Under the new tax law signed by President Donald Trump, many homeowners will no longer be able to claim their local property taxes as a deduction starting in 2018. Hence the push to pre-pay by Dec. 31, and claim the taxes in 2017.

"If you are in a 25 percent tax category and you deduct $10,000 of real estate taxes, then that's going to save you $2,500 on taxes,” said John Pandis, an H&R Block tax professional. 

But pre-paying property taxes is not right for everyone, especially if your itemized deductions are less than the new standard deduction of $24,000 for married couples.

"No reason to accelerate and take the cash flow out now if it's not going to help you,” said Peter Ashby, a financial advisor. Check with your financial advisor or tax preparer to see what's best for you.

But these folks are determined to pre-pay in person. "We don't recommend people that pay by mail. We can't guarantee that even if something is postmarked before Dec. 31 that the check can be processed before then,” said Kim Nava, Sacramento County spokesperson.

That's why Wendi Dodgin is braving the lines. "Looking forward to calling my CPA now and getting my taxes scheduled and get them paid,” she said.

It's money in the bank for taxpayers like Clarence Walker. "I have a deduction that I probably won't get next year and it's all about deductions,” said Walker, who was pre-paying property taxes.

Those tax breaks expire in just a few days on Dec. 31.

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