With deduction evaporating, more California homeowners pay property taxes early

Property tax payments in California are due in two installments, one in December and one in April. Some tax advisers have long recommended that certain individuals make both payments by Dec. 31, depending on their specific situation — to offset higher income in the current year, for example. But the Republican tax plan, which is awaiting President Trump’s signature, limits the deductibility of all state and local taxes to $10,000, far lower than the property tax bill on a newly purchased median-value home in San Francisco.


Alameda County put out a media advisory this week encouraging people to consider paying the second installment early.

Henry Levy, the county treasurer-tax collector, said his background as an income tax professional prompted him to issue the advisory. He said he’s been hearing that many people’s tax advisers have been giving them advice on prepaying their taxes, so he wanted to make sure that those without advisers had similar information.

Levy said his office has seen more people making early payments. In past years at this time, he said, 49 to 51 percent of Alameda County property owners have paid the second installment. This year, it’s up to 54 percent.

“I sort of have a feeling that now that Congress passed the bill, that number will go up,” he said.

Levy also said that his office had explored whether it could collect next year’s taxes early.

“It turns out we couldn’t really mechanically do it,” Levy said.

His office determined that collecting 2018 taxes now might break state law.

“If you were to try and pay 2018 taxes now, the check would end up being sent back to you,” said Mina Martinovich, Marin County’s assistant director of the Department of Finance .

Amanda Fried, a spokeswoman with the San Francisco Treasurer Tax Collector, said that about 23 percent of San Francisco property owners have paid their second installment so far this year, versus 21 percent at the same time last year. The office has not sent out a special advisory.

More on Prepaying Property Taxes

San Mateo County posted a message on its website notifying property owners that they could pay their second installment. The county has also seen an increase in prepayments, said assistant tax collector Robin Elliott.

Napa County also saw a “substantial increase,” said treasurer-tax collector Tamie Frasier. Her office is not offering advice on prepayments. “We always say that’s up to the taxpayer,” she said. “Everybody’s finances are different.”

Contra Costa County also has seen an increase in collections on the second installment, said Brice Bins, chief deputy treasurer-tax collector. It was “uncertain,” he wrote in an email, whether that was related to the tax overhaul or the continuing economic recovery.

Sophie Haigney is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: shaigney@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sophiehaigney

Article source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Faced-with-loss-of-deduction-more-Bay-Area-12448244.php

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