Executive order does not allow for prepayment of 2018 school property taxes

A new federal tax bill was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 22 that caps the allowable deduction for state and local income, sales and property taxes at $10,000 beginning in 2018.

In response, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order designed to help New York taxpayers pre-pay their 2018 property taxes before Dec. 31, 2017 in order to potentially claim the deduction before the new federal tax law goes into effect.

While the governor’s Executive Order may, in some cases, allow residents to prepay their 2018 municipal (e.g., town, county or city) property taxes, there is no legal or practical mechanism for prepayment of school taxes by the Dec. 31 deadline.

Most municipal property taxes are calculated on a calendar year, from Jan. 1 thru Dec. 31. As such, municipalities may be in a better position to issue tax warrants a few weeks early. However, all New York State school districts, such as the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District, operate on a July 1 to June 30 tax year. Schools are required to follow standard budgeting and tax levying process and, as such, do not adopt a budget and tax levy until May of each year. Therefore, districts have no mechanism to issue tax warrants in December for a budget that has yet to be finalized or put before voters.

The Executive Order does not provide the authority for school districts to adopt estimated or partial tax warrants for the 2018-2019 school year or to issue tax bills corresponding to those warrants. Further, it does not address the prepayment of school taxes and does not change the statutory process by which taxes are levied by schools.  School taxes cannot be paid early for the 2018-19 school year.