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Local

DeKalb County residents prepay property taxes ahead of tax reform

Matthew Apgar file photo
DeKalb County Treasurer/Collector Christine Johnson speaks at the DeKalb County Administration Building in Sycamore in May. Johnson said her office has collected about $1.7 million in property tax prepayments as of Thursday.
Matthew Apgar file photo DeKalb County Treasurer/Collector Christine Johnson speaks at the DeKalb County Administration Building in Sycamore in May. Johnson said her office has collected about $1.7 million in property tax prepayments as of Thursday.

SYCAMORE – DeKalb County property owners have been paying their taxes early in anticipation of no rules in the Tax Cut and Reform Act that cap local property tax deductions.

County Treasurer Christine Johnson’s office reported that county property owners had made $1.7 million in early property tax payments as of Thursday, more than three times as much as the total at this time last year. It is not a local phenomenon.

“People statewide are doing this,” Johnson said.

The recent tax reform bill passed in Washington eliminated a previous provision in the tax code that allows homeowners to deduct their state and local property taxes from their federal taxes. The new law will cap the deduction for local property taxes at $10,000 a year.

The Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday that 2018 state and local property taxes prepaid in 2017 will be deductible under certain circumstances. The advisory noted that it is up to local rule when a property is assessed and when that tax becomes due.

“In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018,” the IRS advisory read.

In most cases, those paying early are basing their payments on last year’s assessments, as tax bills have not yet been sent out to property owners. They have been informed of the proposed assessment, and any changes in assessments were published at the end of October, but appeals are still being heard by the Board of Review, Johnson said.

Johnson said tax prepayments will be applied to property owners’ 2017 taxes payable in 2018, and taxpayers will be informed of any balance over or under after the bills are finalized. If a homeowner pays too much, she said, they can’t be given a refund because the money already will have been deducted from their income tax.

“It will roll over into the next year,” Johnson said.

To prepay, Johnson said county residents have to complete a two-page form and write a check to the DeKalb County collector by
4:30 p.m. Friday. The office is closed over the weekend.

“We advise people to talk to their tax accountant and financial adviser to see if this is something they should do,” Johnson said. “Every person’s tax situation is different.”

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