Floridians can’t prepay 2018 property taxes to avoid changes in new tax law

by | Dec 29, 2017

Florida property owners who are hoping to be given a last minute opportunity to prepay their 2018 property taxes to avoid changes in the tax law approved by Congress last week, don’t count on it.

The new law is set to take effect next year, but the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) says it doesn’t have the authority to waive laws and permit prepayment of property taxes.

As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott earlier this week asking the governor to let Floridians pay their 2018 property taxes in advance, something that has been done by governors in other states.

“Some Florida residents have concluded they may be adversely impacted by this recent change in the law,” he wrote in the letter, “an adverse impact that would be remedied by prepaying their 2018 property tax bill in 2017 to maximize their benefits under the still existing federal tax law.”

Greenberg said Florida statutes allow for the prepayment of property taxes, but only when the tax roll is open for collection. He recommended Scott issue an order temporarily suspending that rule to allow prepayment through the end of 2017 for taxes owed in 2018.

The tax changes, which were signed into law by President Donald Trump, would cap property tax deductions at $10,000 for taxes owed in 2018. That includes all combined state and local deductions.

“An executive order like this would have the benefit of encouraging early payment of the property tax bills, thus ensuring taxes are paid, and further allowing citizens who think they are hurt by the new federal tax laws to reap the benefits of the existing federal tax laws one additional year,” he (Greenberg) wrote.

With the end of the year just a couple of days away, Greenberg says he realizes his request poses some challenges, but believes it’s still possible.

In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for DOR says they simply don’t have the legal authority to permit Greenberg’s request.

“Florida law does not authorize taxpayers to prepay property taxes and changes to this law would require a legislative bill,” said Chelsea Eagle, deputy communications director for DOR. “Pursuant to section 192.042, Florida Statutes, all real property is to be assessed according to its just value on January 1 of each year. Consequently, 2018 year property taxes cannot be assessed until after that time. Additionally, Florida law does not authorize the prepayment of taxes in the year prior to the property tax being assessed.”

 

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