Trying to beat the Trump tax law, tri-state residents scramble to file next year’s taxes now

JERSEY CITY — Throughout the tri-state, people are trying to pay their taxes for 2018 now, before the tax bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday goes into effect.

The prepayment only applies to property taxes, and can total well into the five figures for some families, but that's not stopping a record number of people from taking advantage of it.

"I think it helps in general" said Dawn Geoghan, "given the tax law changes." She's a Jersey City homeowner who said she typically pays her taxes in advance, but is pleased that her city, the second largest in New Jersey, is making it possible to pay a full year's worth, in advance.

The reason for the change is the local property tax cap in the new tax law. It allows a deduction of property taxes only up to $10,000. However, because many homes in the Tri-State have much higher tax amounts than that, their owners are trying to pay their 2018 property taxes now, before the cap goes into effect.

In fact, along with Jersey City, Greenwich, Connecticut is allowing residents to pay their property taxes for next year during this calendar year. Hempstead and Oyster Bay, on Long Island, are also offering homeowners to prepay property taxes, but only those that are used to fund schools, which is, by the way, the majority of property tax payments in those towns.

Not every eligible homeowner is impressed with the prepayment options, though.

"The federal government hasn't said they would allow you to count those payments," said Sharon Agnello, who owns a row house here. "So we would essentially be giving that money to the city," she said, unless federal authorities can clarify otherwise.

"I'm not dying to give an additional, like, $18,000 a year to the city."

Agnello may be skeptical, but Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X. Clavin, Jr., told PIX11 News that property tax prepay is not only within the law, but that many homeowners have been going to his office to do it.

"We've seen a turnout of residents walking in here steadily like we've never seen," said Clavin, who's responsible for collecting tax revenues for the 750,000 residents of the town. Normally at the end of the year, he said, "We might have half a dozen [people file in person]. Today, we've seen 350 people, today alone."