Moving 2018 Property Tax Payment to 2017

Why you may want to accelerate your property tax payment into 2017

own a homeAccelerating deductible expenses, such as property tax on your home, into the current year typically is a good idea. Why? It will defer tax, which usually is beneficial. Prepaying property tax may be especially beneficial this year, because proposed tax legislation might reduce or eliminate the benefit of the property tax deduction beginning in 2018.

Proposed changes
The initial version of the House tax bill would cap the property tax deduction for individuals at $10,000 in 2008. The initial version of the Senate tax bill would eliminate the property tax deduction for individuals altogether.

In addition, tax rates under both bills would go down for many taxpayers, making deductions less valuable. And because the standard deduction would increase significantly under both bills, some taxpayers might no longer benefit from itemizing deductions.

2017 year-end planning
You can prepay (by December 31) property taxes that relate to 2017 but that are due in 2018 and deduct the payment on your 2017 return. But you generally can’t prepay property tax that relates to 2018 and deduct the payment on your 2017 return.

Prepaying property tax will in most cases be beneficial if the property tax deduction is eliminated beginning in 2018. But even if the property tax deduction is retained, prepaying could still be beneficial. Here’s why:

  • If your property tax bill is very large, prepaying is likely a good idea in case the property  tax deduction is capped beginning in 2018.
  • If you could be subject to a lower tax rate in 2018 or won’t have enough itemized  deductions overall in 2018 to exceed a higher standard deduction, prepaying is also  likely tax-smart because a property tax deduction next year would have less or no  benefit.

However, there are a few caveats:

  • If you’re subject to the AMT in 2017, you won’t get any benefit from prepaying your  property tax. And if the property tax deduction is retained for 2018, the prepayment could  cost you a tax-saving opportunity next year.
  • If your income is high enough that the income-based itemized deduction reduction  applies to you, the tax benefit of a prepayment may be reduced.
  • While the initial versions of both the House and Senate bills generally lower tax rates,  some taxpayers might still end up being subject to higher tax rates in 2018, either  because of tax law changes or simply because their income goes up next year. If you’re  among them and the property tax deduction is retained, you may save more tax by  holding off on paying property tax until it’s due next year.

It’s still uncertain what the final legislation will contain and whether it will be passed and signed into law before the end of this year. But it’s good to consider the proposed changes and plan for the best outcome for you based on the information we have.

Our advice is:  Don’t go it alone. David Reape, CPA, Ciuni & Panichi, Inc. Tax Principal has been helping clients make sound financial decisions related to tax for over 20 years. He is a trusted advisor to both not-for-profit and for- profit organizations. If you have questions, contact him at: 216-831-7171 or dreape@cp-advisors.com.

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