New Jersey homeowners rush to pay 2018 property tax bills

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Many New Jersey homeowners have been lining up outside tax offices to pay their property tax bills early.

There were lines out the door at the tax office in Millburn Friday. The homeowners say that they want to prepay their bills before Jan. 1, 2018. This is when the new federal tax law goes into effect, putting a $10,000 cap on all state and local deductions.

“Our tax bill goes over that. I would imagine everybody in the Millburn-Short Hills area goes over that,” says Millburn resident Suzanne Brown. “[The new tax reform] is going to affect us tremendously.”

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Tax records show that the average property tax bill in Essex County for 2016 was more than $18,000. Those who prepay their bill before Jan. 1 say that they are hoping to receive the full deduction.

“We will have that much less money to pay for our kids’ education because we have to give more to the government and we won’t be able to deduct what’s going to New Jersey,” says homeowner Tom Brown.

Staff at the Millburn office tell News 12 New Jersey that the long lines have been happening since the office opened last week.
But there is no guarantee that prepaying the tax bill will save the homeowners money.

Experts say that there is a loophole in the new tax law that could allow people to prepay under the 2017 deduction. Gov. Chris Christie even ordered tax offices to accept the prepayments.

But an Internal Revenue Service memo this week cast doubt on whether 2017 rules will be applied.

“I have no idea what they’re thinking. I have no idea why they would want to cause me to pay taxes twice,” says homeowner Steve Quirk. “Pay taxes locally and then federally on the same money that was taken at the local level. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Some municipalities are accepting pre-payments on property tax bills through Saturday.

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