Rush to prepay 2018 property taxes causes long lines, delays

A line stretches out the door at the Buncombe County Tax Department. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

People were packed into the Buncombe County Department Thursday morning.

The line weaved through dividers inside and even made its way outside, sending handfuls of people into the cold.

"I’ve never seen so many people anxious to pay their taxes," said Evan Neese, waiting in line to pay her 2017 and 2018 property taxes.

Evan is like many lining up across the country, attempting to get a bigger deduction before new rules take effect next year.

"With the latest tax reform, they did a cap of 10,000 dollars for what’s called SALT, state and local taxes, on your Schedule A itemized deductions," said Leah B. Noel, CPA and owner of Leah B. Noel CPA, PC.

Noel said with the latest tax reform, congress left out a restriction for prepaying property tax.

"I don’t know if they just left that out accidentally but a lot of people are doubling up so they can go ahead and get that in this year. As a CPA I always say it depends on a case by case situation, but obviously I think it’s a good strategy if you’re able to do it."

The IRS issued a statement on Wednesday stating unless 2018's property taxes are assessed and paid in 2017, they would not count toward a deduction in 2017.

The Buncombe County Tax Office has been creating bills for those who wish to prepay their 2018 property tax, but property values won't be assessed until August so it remains unclear whether the IRS will accept those prepaid taxes.

Creating those bills is also leading to slow downs at the tax office according to Buncombe County Tax Collector Jenifer Pike.

"I do not want our citizens standing outside in this weather," Pike said. "We’re moving as fast as we can, we have as many cashiering stations open as we have available. We’re trying to move them through as quickly as we can but those that are interested in prepaying, that does slow down the line slightly."

People who just need to pay 2017's property taxes can skip the line by paying online here, by dropping the payment off at a drop box, or by mailing in their payment as long as it's postmarked on or before January 5.

For more information, visit the Buncombe County website.

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