Prepaying Property Taxes in 2017 May Save You Money, Post Tax Overhaul

December 22, 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also cuts tax deductions that were once helpful to homeowners.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

Property tax is among the biggest bills that homeowners face every year--which is why it is worth taking a moment out of your holiday preparations to decide whether you can or should prepay yours for 2018.

Beginning in January of the 2018 tax year, the maximum federal deduction that taxpayers will be able to claim for state and local taxes is $10,000 (or $5,000 for a married taxpayer who files a separate return). That maximum includes one's deductions for income tax, sales tax, and yes, property tax. There is an exception to the $10,000 limit when the property is being used to carry out a trade or business.

The upshot is that if your state has a high income tax rate, a high property tax rate, or both, you are looking at future years in which these deductions will be much less financially beneficial than before. Residents of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York are reportedly likely to be the hardest hit.

There may, however, be measures you can take to help for this year, if you act quickly. In some cities or states, homeowners have a long window of opportunity in which to pay their property taxes, and may have gotten into the habit of delaying the payment as much as possible into the coming year. In other cities or states, one can actually prepay a property tax bill before the year in which it's due.

So, it's worth checking your latest bill or learning about your local taxing authority's rule on prepayment, making a call to your financial adviser if you have one, and probably getting that check into the mail if you can possibly do so.

But further confusing matters was an advisory statement from the IRS, asserting that taxpayers can deduct prepaid taxes only if the property had been assessed for these taxes in 2017.

(Note: Prepaying income tax is not an option--the tax bill anticipated that, and won't let you take a deduction for it in 2017.)

Effective Date: December 22, 2017