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Area tax offices not facing lines to get deductions

From Staff and Wire Reports
Dec. 28, 2017 at 11:30 p.m.

Tax offices in Gregg, Rusk, Upshur, Harrison and Panola counties are not seeing a rush of homeowners lining up at the last minute to seek a major tax deduction before it ends with the new year —and for good reason.

The tax break applies to 2018 taxes, which will not be set until sometime in 2018, tax officials in the five counties said.

"It is not beneficial because 2018s (taxes) are not assessed," said Debbie Crawford, Panola County tax assessor-collector. She added appraisal districts in Texas mail notices in April or May.

Moreover, Texas does not have a state income tax, while homeowners in other states have been able to deduct state taxes. The tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump this past week puts a new $10,000 limit on the amount of state and local taxes people may deduct from their income when calculating their federal tax liability.

The new cap could lead to a tax hike of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in mostly wealthier, high-tax communities in California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and other states.

The IRS said Wednesday that some homeowners who prepay their property taxes due in 2018 may claim the deduction on their 2017 returns, but only if taxes have been assessed and billed. People may not guess at what their 2018 assessments might be, pay them now and claim a deduction for that amount.

Gregg County Tax Assessor-Collector Kirk Shields said state law enables property owners to estimate their taxes for 2018.

"We will accept it," he said. "Whether it is deductible for income tax purposes, I don't know. Maybe their tax professional can help them in that regard."

Shields, who was out of the office Thursday, said his office received some calls from people inquiring about the matter.

Crawford said her office has received some calls as well.

However, Fonda Leonard, chief deputy at the Upshur County Tax Office, said, "I have not heard from anybody."

By contrast, the Associated Press reported that Tax Receiver Donald Clavin in Hempstead, New York, said "thousands" of people packed his office Tuesday trying to pay their 2018 property and school taxes a year in advance.

Similar scenes have played out at tax collection offices around the country in places with high local taxes, the AP reported.



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