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No long lines seen for early tax payments

Some Chautauqua County tax collectors are not seeing the staggering lines that other New York municipalities are seeing as new federal tax laws are set to take effect.

The expedited tax collection is in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency order that allows town and city collectors to accept pre-payment of 2018 property tax payments during the remainder of 2017 as soon as the tax warrant is received from the county. Tax warrants were finalized by the county on Wednesday.

Cuomo made the order in response to new federal tax legislation that caps property tax deduction at $10,000 for the upcoming year. The governor’s order and the early release of the tax warrants allows an opportunity for taxpayers to pay their taxes for 2018 in 2017 so they can be deducted from this year’s taxes.

City of Dunkirk Treasurer Mark Woods said his office has received a few calls regarding the early tax collection, but it has not been overwhelming.

Woods said at this point, it is business as usual.

“I don’t know if there has been any huge number of collection,” he said. “It’s just standard procedure. Nothing (is) out of the ordinary.”

Woods said this is the first time he has heard of anything like this happening. He said it may be best for individuals to contact their tax preparer to discuss the situation.

“If they have someone prepare their income taxes, check with them to see if it will be advantageous,” he said.

Woods said the treasurer’s office cannot offer advice on tax matters.

The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Also, Woods said payments can be mailed in, and will be accepted if post-marked by Dec. 31.

Jamestown City Clerk Todd Thomas said there has been an increase of traffic, but no long lines like other cities have seen. Thomas said it is “different” that more people are coming in, but it is nothing the staff can’t handle.

Thomas said the staff has worked out a system which helps keep the process on track.

‘We’ve been trying to make an efficient process,” he said.

“(The staff) has reacted very well.”

While the executive order by Cuomo came as a surprise, Thomas said the staff has “adapted” to the situation.

“We’re here and we’re accepting,” Thomas said.

However, the city clerk’s office cannot offer tax advice. Thomas suggested that individuals speak with their tax professionals or mortgage companies to see how the deductions would work.

Payments can either be made in person, through the mail or dropped off in time for the Dec. 31 deadline. Thomas said the office will be accepting payments from 9 a.m. to noon today, due to a pre-scheduled holiday.

“We also have drop boxes outside city hall and in the lobby where folks can leave payments,” he said.

According to the governor’s executive order, online payments can be made until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. Mailed payments must be postmarked on or before Dec. 31.

A release from Chautauqua County stated that 2018 school and village taxes are not covered by the governor’s executive order and cannot be pre-paid. The county recommends that taxpayers contact their local tax collector for information regarding pre-payment as well as to confirm the amount due for 2018.

In addition, the tax amount owed for 2018 may be found by utilizing the “Property Tax Look-Up” link on the County’s Real Property Tax Department website. Once a tax parcel is selected using this feature, the user will need to click on “Current Year Taxes” in order to view 2018 County taxes due.

The website is located at chautauqua.ny.us/349/Real-Property-Tax. Some city of Jamestown taxpayers may have additional charges not appearing on the county website link, so they should contact the city treasurer to confirm.

Ideally, taxpayers should attempt to pay in person on or before December 31 and obtain a receipt for the payment made. If the taxpayer is unable to pay in person or the local tax collection office is not open, the governor’s order provides that prepayments may be sent by mail if postmarked on or before Dec. 31, 2017. Obtaining proof of mailing is recommended. Checks should be made payable to the town collector or city treasurer as applicable.

The release added that property taxpayers should consult with a tax professional regarding the deductibility of property taxes, including what method of payment, such as online, through the mail or in person, will assure deductibility on their 2017 tax returns. IRS Publication 17 which is available online contains guidance beginning on Page 151.

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