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Many in Lorain County prepaying property taxes due to changes

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    Lorain County Tax Services Vice President and Office Manager George Shupp speaks Thursday afternoon about the revised tax codes Lorain County residents face.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — Property owners in Lorain County are flocking to the county Treasurer Dan Talarek’s office to pay property taxes before the year ends in the hopes of avoiding a limit on the amount of deductions they can claim under the tax overhaul that goes into effect next year.

The Republican bill, which was signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, limits the amount of state and local tax payment deductions from federal taxes. The maximum would be $10,000.

Talarek said his office has been very busy.

“We collected $1.3 million on Wednesday alone,” he said.

He said although people have been lining up out the door, he doesn’t know if paying early is beneficial or not.

“We don’t know the tax code, but if somebody wants to come in and pay we’ll take it,” he said.

The Internal Revenue Service has issued an advisory stating that prepaid real property taxes may be deductible in 2017 if taxes were assessed and paid in 2017.

George Shupp, a tax consultant and vice president of Lorain County Tax Service Inc. in Elyria, recommended that people consult with experts before taking action.

“See your tax adviser — just because you see a line of people paying doesn’t mean they are all right,” Shupp said. “Some people are paying them because it will benefit them, other people could be wasting their money.”

Shupp said the tax code changes mean that deductions will be handled differently next year.

“What you’ve got to look at is this: There are people who can pay it in advance and take a tax break if they’re already allowed to itemize,” he said. “Next year the standard deduction is going to double, which means if you were close to being able to itemize this year, next year you probably won’t.

“You’re going to lose those itemized deductions — so you’re going to pay them in advance while you can still take advantage while in the current tax situation.”

County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said he thinks those who prepaid would qualify for the deductions, but it is ultimately up to the IRS.

“Our values and rates are certified,” Snodgrass said. “So if the payments are made (in time), taxpayers should have the ability to deduct on their taxes.”

More information on the tax code changes can be found on the IRS website, www.irs.gov, under the news icon.

Contact Cindy Breda 329-7126 or cbreda@chroniclet.com.

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