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Towns prepare for prepayment rush ahead of tax bill overhaul taking effect

(WHAM photo)

Irondequoit, N.Y. - Local governments are scrambling to get tax bills ready and prepare for a rush of homeowners paying them by year’s end.

This comes as the newly passed federal tax overhaul takes effect in January; residents are trying to save money, with $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

“You can't do it until Friday,” said Brockport homeowner Michael Halko. “It's going to be a zoo here. They only have one day to do all of this. It's not going to be pretty."

Towns have extra employees on hand to help homeowners with the process and printing bills. Irondequoit Town Supervisor Dave Seeley said they're going to have more residents than they've ever had - at least ten times as many.

"It's always complicated,” Seeley said. “Whether you're for or against federal tax reform, it's probably best not to do it 10 days before the new year. We're expecting a lot of questions."

Halko tried to beat the crowd and pay his taxes on Tuesday. But he's been advised he has to wait until Friday.

"There may be gains early on, but then you go ten years down the road, and we're older, we're all going to suffer,” Halko said. “It's a bad plan."

Seeley said the town is working out a plan to get more computers in the hallways to help print out bills and get folks moving along. They'll have additional people on hand to collect those payments.

Hundreds of property owners have been calling the town tax department, seeking advice about taking advantage of early payments.

"I've instructed our staff not to give advice on if they should,” said Seeley. “I think people really need to make that decision themselves or consult with a tax professional as well, because we don't want people to assume they're required to pay here."

Under the newly-passed federal tax plan, some homeowners may benefit from paying town and county taxes early. This does not include school taxes.

Although local governments are accepting 2018 property taxes in advance, one question remains with accountants. That's whether the prepayments will be deductible in 2017.

It's for the IRS to determine, which is a game of wait and see.

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