Droves of Saugertiesians thronged the tax office at the town hall last week to meet the deadline for sanctioned tax prepayments. They wanted to save money before the new federal tax bill sharply limiting deductions on state and local taxes goes into effect in 2018,. According to the tax office, 489 Saugerties taxpayers made a total of $1,275,619.85 in prepayments.
On December 22. governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing New Yorkers “to postpone the pain” of the federal tax overhaul, which caps deductions for all non-federal taxes — property and state- and local-level income — at $10,000. Ulster County executive Mike Hein announced that residents could capitalize on the order on December 22. Prepayments were not accepted for school or village taxes, and tax collectors were able to choose whether to allow residents in their communities to participate. The unprecedented process put stress on tax-collecting offices throughout the country.
Saugertiesian property owner Shelley Davis shared her experiences attempting to prepay before the December 29 deadline. According to Davis, the tax-office representative who spoke with her on the phone was “very nasty and refused to give [her] even the most basic information.”
“I figured out that typically at the end of the year, the town workers just want to have their traditional office parties and not work,” wrote Davis in an email. “Typically there is no reason for a tax office to be working much if at all the last week in December. This glitch in the tax code that just came out seems to be throwing off the traditional lazy end of the year at the Saugerties tax office. I think this should be investigated — there is no excuse, even Christmas, for not doing one’s job.”
According to Saugerties tax collector Julie Dunn, her office will continue to process prepayment received by mail postmarked in December. “I hung up on her because I didn’t want to get yelled at,” said Dunn. “Ninety-nine percent of people are very appreciative that we’re here and open.”
“You need a certified public accountant who knows the ins and outs of the law that was passed,” added Dunn. “Our job is just to collect and record the payments. That’s it.”