Mad dash to pay 2018 real estate taxes early

CHARDON, Ohio-- The week between Christmas and New Year's is usually fairly normal at the Geauga County Treasurer's Office.

Not this year.

"It has been crazy," said Caroline Mansfield, the chief deputy of the treasurer's office.

The new tax law has led to a flood of people coming in to pay their 2018 real estate taxes before the end of 2017.

Usually, the Geauga County Treasurer's Office collects about $1 million in those taxes during this week. This year, it's more than $6 million.

The reason is a change made by the new tax law that will likely change how many people file their taxes in the coming years.

"By just about doubling the standard deduction, you're going to eliminate a lot of people itemizing their deductions," said Jim Knuff, a CPA with the firm Ashworth, Knuff and Company.

Through 2017, a married couple filing jointly can claim a standard deduction of $12,700 or they can itemize their deductions, if they add up to more then that. Starting next year, that standard deduction jumps to $24,000.

So many people may be better off taking that large deduction rather then itemizing. But, if they don't itemize, they can't write off their real estate taxes.

That is why Knuff and many other CPA's have advised clients to pay their 2018 real estate taxes before year's end. That way, if they itemize for 2017, they can still write those real estate taxes off this year's tax return.

The same may be true for your charitable contributions: if you itemize this year, but may take the larger standard deduction next year, you may want to make your contributions now, so you can write them off your 2017 taxes.

You don't normally think of people want to rush to pay their taxes.

But this year, given the tax changes, it appears to make sense for a lot of people.