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Shelter Island property owners make advance tax payments

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO |  Receiver of Taxes Annmarie Seddio.
JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Receiver of Taxes Annmarie Seddio.

Local property taxes for 2018 aren’t due until January 10 — for the first-half payment, May 31 for the second-half.

But that hasn’t stopped Shelter Islanders from joining other New Yorkers in delivering payments early in the hope of being able to write them off against their 2017 income taxes.

Apparently spurred to action by the passage of new federal laws that cap deductions of certain taxes, property owners on the Island (as elsewhere around New York and other high-tax states), are sending checks to the Receiver of Taxes Annmarie Seddio for full payments at a higher than typical rate, Ms. Seddio said.

Her office issues bills and receives taxes for all taxing entities on the Island — the town, the school, the library, and the Highway and Fire departments — except the Village of Dering Harbor.

Ms. Seddio, at work Friday morning reviewing mailed payments, fielding calls and accepting in-person payments, said that while the office was busier than usual — having collected about $9 million of the total tax levy of $21 million for the fiscal year that runs from December 1, 2017 to November 30, 2018 — she didn’t take up Suffolk County’s offer to provide additional clerical staff.

Instead, Ms. Seddio’s been putting in additional hours after the office closes. She also posted a special message on her office’s website inviting taxpayers to call her to set up payment appointments over the weekend when the office is closed.

Many callers have expressed confusion about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order enabling certain taxes to be paid early. That order, she said, applied to jurisdictions that had not yet issued tax assessments.

The warrant for Shelter Island taxpayers, including mortgage lenders that pay property taxes from escrow accounts on behalf of clients, was issued December 5.

Owners of mortgaged properties have been calling to check the status of payments made by their lenders, she said. Most mortgage lenders made escrow payments in mid-December for the first half of taxes, she said, adding that people with mortgages who want to pay the second half in advance can do so, but must themselves forward the payment receipt to the lender.

Matters in the Village of Dering Harbor, where the owners of 36 homes pay additional village taxes, are a bit more complicated. While village residents may pay in advance the town-generated bill and the bill for the second half of the current year’s village taxes, their village taxes for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2018 have not yet been assessed.

Because advice from the governor’s office and the IRS is unclear, Dering Harbor Village Clerk and Treasurer Lisa Gilpin said Friday that residents who ask for an estimate of their 2018 taxes have been advised in writing that: “The estimate may not be relied upon; the ultimate tax will be determined when the budget and tax warrant is duly adopted; the village reserves the right to return the prepayment at any time; and the village takes no position as to the deductibility” of the prepayment. Residents wishing to make advance payments, she said, must “agree to disclaim the village from any liability in accepting the prepayment.”