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Ohioans Rush To Pay Taxes Early, Before GOP Tax Changes Kick In

Esther Honig
Homeowners line up at the Franklin County Treasurer's Office. Many are hoping to pre-pay their 2018 property tax before the end of 2017.

The Franklin County treasurer's office has seen an unusual amount of traffic in the last two weeks, and that has a lot to do with the recent Republican tax overhaul.

The new tax measures that President Trump signed into law last week puts a cap on the amount an individual can deduct for state, local and property taxes at $10,000. Currently the deduction is unlimited. 

At the Franklin County Treasurers Office, a line snaked down the hall way as residents came in to try and pre-pay their 2018 property tax before the new year.

Erick Erickson of Dublin says his taxes will easily be over the $10,000 threshold and he's hoping this will help him save some money.

"I want to pay them early so that I can hit the deduction next year," Erickson said.

If you call the Delaware County tax department, you're likely to hear this message from treasurer Jon Peterson: "We are experiencing extremely high traffic at this time due to interest in the prepayment of real estate taxes."

It's the same in Northeast Ohio, too.

"This year because of the Trump tax bill, we have never been busier," said Geauga County treasurer Chris Hitchcock.

Lake County treasurer Lorraine Fende also said her office has been fielding a barrage of requests to pre-pay, even though her office also hasn't mailed out official tax bills.

"This is very, very unusual," she said on Thursday. "Right now there's a line outside our door of people wanting to pay."

Whether or not the efforts of home owners like Erickson will pay off remains to be seen. Officials at the Franklin County Treasurer's Office say that, according to the Ohio Revised Code, they can only receive property taxes for the current year, and only if the property has been assessed.

"We have people that would like to pay several years of taxes so they can take advantage of the deduction, but the law doesn't allow that," Hitchcock said. 

Treasurers can, however, receive over-payments which have the option of being put into an escrow fund, or being refunded to the tax payer.

On Wednesday, the IRS issued anadvisory stating that to qualify for the deduction, homeowners must have received a 2018 property tax assessment from their local tax authority and it must be paid before the end of 2017.

​Jack LaMonica, chief of staff for the Summit County Fiscal Office, says the GOP tax plan has added a lot of uncertainty.

“I don’t know if the individuals who wrote the bill actually knew how to implement the bill and what needed to be done, so therefore there’s a lot of confusion out there," LaMonica says.

Homeowners who are hoping to prepay property taxes based on an estimated assessment may be out of luck - but both Hitchcock and Fende said they aren't currently planning to refund payments that don't make the cut.

Adrian Ma of ideastream, M.L. Schultze of WKSU, and Jo Ingles of the Statehouse News Bureau contributed to this report.