New tax plan has Town Hall bustling as people rush to pay early

Dec 28, 2017

Now that President Donald Trump’s tax plan has been signed into law, town halls across the country, including in Wareham, are seeing residents rush to pay their property taxes early.

Over the past couple days, hundreds of people visited Town Hall to get payments in before the end of the year, officials report.

John Foster, the town’s finance director, treasurer and collector said there are “absolutely” more people coming in to pay taxes than is usual at this time of year. More than 100 people came to Town Hall to pay on Thursday, with a similar amount on Wednesday. Town Hall is closed on Friday, so Thursday was the last opportunity to pay in person before the new year. Last year, there were only a couple dozen people coming in to pay during this time, Foster said.

The Republican tax plan, signed into law Dec. 22, includes a $10,000 cap on deductions of state and local taxes on federal returns, which has caused homeowners to attempt to pay their bill before the changes take effect.

According to the IRS, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for state or local property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed before 2018.

The office has gotten close to 300 phone calls this week with questions about paying the bills, Foster said. Some people are calling from out of state or out of the country with questions.

“Most people are quoting the Internet, IRS advisories and their accountants,” Foster said. “It’s a big thing. This isn’t a typical year.”

Michelle Pozza, a department assistant at the Collectors Office, said there was a steady flow of people all day on Thursday and that her work day was “crazy,” especially since the office was short-staffed since several people were on vacation.

People say, 'Thank you Trump’ sarcastically when they come to pay, Pozza said.

Fiscal year 2018 third and fourth quarter tax bills due Feb. 1 and May 1 will be mailed on Dec. 29. Taxpayers who wish to prepay their fiscal year real estate and personal property tax bills while Town Hall is closed may deposit their payments in the dropbox outside Town Hall.

Payments received prior to Jan. 2 will be posted as paid on Dec. 31. Third quarter real estate and personal property tax payments can also be paid online at Online payments will be posted as paid the date the payment is made.