Thousands of Lake and Cook County property owners are rushing to pay real estate taxes due in 2018 now.
Those taxpayers want to take advantage of federal income tax deductions that will vanish December 31 because of the overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code signed by President Donald Trump December 22.
Currently taxpayers can claim a deduction of all state and local taxes including property taxes while filing their federal income tax return, according to a December 28 Chicago Tribune story. When the new tax law takes effect January 1, the deduction will be limited to $10,000.
As a result, thousands of people have been paying their real estate taxes in Lake and Cook Counties early, according to Jim McCulloch, deputy Lake County treasurer.
McCulloch said he has worked in the treasurer’s office for 19 years and the average number of early payments is approximately 350, totaling revenue of around $4 million. This year there has been a flood.
“By now things are way up,” said McCulloch in a DailyNorthShore.com interview. “It’s going to be well into the thousands by the end of Friday.” His “rough estimate” of early revenue is between $30 and $40 million.
In Cook County the numbers are much higher online alone, according to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas in the Tribune story. She said 47,000 taxpayers have paid $312 million this year as of December 27. She anticipates another $100 million before the end of the year. A year ago 1,700 persons paid $13 million.
Before anyone takes action, Lake County Treasurer David Stolman said in a news release people should get advice from a tax professional.
David Greenberg, an accountant with the firm of Brook Weiner in Chicago, said taxpayers subject to the alternative minimum tax should not prepay property taxes.
“It will do you no good,” said Greenberg in a DNS interview.
The Internal Revenue Service issued an advisory to taxpayers and tax professionals December 27 saying under some circumstances prepaying property taxes is an allowable deduction for federal income taxes for 2017 paid in 2018.
The deduction is allowed if the payment is made in 2017 and the property is assessed prior to 2018, according to the advisory. Prepayment of anticipated taxes is not an allowed deduction.
In Cook County, Pappas said in the Tribune story online payments will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. December 31. In Lake County taxes must be paid by December 29, according to McCulloch.
Lake County taxpayers can pay by mail. McCulloch said the envelope must be postmarked by December 29. They must be mailed directly to the treasurer’s office in Room 102, 18 North County Street, Waukegan, Illinois 60085. Online payments can also be made through a person’s bank if the person’s bank is set up for it. Persons can pay in person through 5 p.m. December 29.
Long lines are anticipated at the treasurer’s office. McCulloch said people in the door by 5 p.m. will most likely be accommodated but they will not keep processing payments for several hours. He also suggested the drop box outside the building.
“We will come by Saturday and clear that out,” said McCulloch.
With the onslaught taxpayers, McCulloch said the office has just activated online payments which can be done by an e-check.
In Cook County, in addition to paying online, people can download a form from the treasurer’s website and mail it in, according to the Tribune story. They can also download the bill and take it to a Chase Bank branch or pay in person at the treasurer’s office at 118 North Clark Street, Chicago.