By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter
Jan. 3, 2018: As 2017 ended, confusion reigned not only for Bronxville taxpayers hoping to take advantage of their soon-to-be-slashed property tax deduction but also for entities charged with tax collection. The Village of Bronxville, Bronxville Free Union School District, Town of Eastchester, County of Westchester, and State of New York all levy and collect taxes in Bronxville. The entities operate under varying fiscal calendars, which could ultimately affect prepayment deductibility.
The only certainty is that, beginning this year, under the tax reform bill passed in November by the U.S. House of Representatives and in December by the U.S. Senate and signed in December by the president, taxpayers will be limited to a $10,000 deduction for state and local taxes.
According to an Internal Revenue Service memo issued on December 27, 2017, prepayment in 2017 of 2018 real property taxes that have not been assessed in 2017 will not be deductible.
Village Administrator Jim Palmer reported at the December 11, 2017, board of trustees meeting that taxpayers had begun calling village hall expressing a desire to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes. At that time he announced that the village would not accept prepayments. The village typically issues the warrant authorizing the collection of taxes on June 1, the first day of its fiscal year, with its budget in place.
However, on December 23, 2017, Palmer announced that the village would accept property tax prepayments, with the proviso that amounts would be refunded in 2018 should the ultimate decision be that such prepayments are not deductible. The decision came after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order #172 on December 22, 2017. The order authorized local officials to levy taxes immediately and allowed taxpayers to make partial payments before the end of 2017.
Palmer reported that, as of December 31, 2017, the village had received 2018 prepayments on approximately 260 properties.
In a communication from the Bronxville Union Free School District, also dated December 22, 2017, Superintendent Dr. Roy Montesano stated that, upon general counsel’s advice, the district, following a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year, would not legally be able to accept 2018-2019 school tax prepayments. The governor’s order, per Montesano, did not give the district authority to adopt an estimated 2018-2019 budget, which would determine the tax levy, or to collect taxes on an estimated levy.
The Town of Eastchester announced that, based on the governor’s order, it would accept prepayment of 2018 town and fire district taxes based on the 2017 levy of those taxes. The town further stipulated that 2018 water district, sewer district, and school taxes could not be prepaid.
Westchester County, on December 26, 2017, stated that the county would not accept any prepayment of 2018 property taxes. County officials cited the inability to issue the warrant authorizing tax collection before the end of the year. On December 28, 2017, New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica issued a statement criticizing the county’s decision not to allow taxpayers to prepay their 2018 taxes.
Pictured here: Bronxville Village Hall.
Photo by A. Warner