Paying property tax bills by Dec. 31 used to be a surefire way for many filers to bump up their Schedule A deductions enough to make itemizing more advantageous than using the standard deduction.
That's no longer the case thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
In addition to capping state and local real estate tax deductions at $10,000, the tax reform bill also nearly doubled prior tax law's standard amounts.
So fewer folks are worrying about paying tax bills that may be due later, like the end of next January here in the Austin area, by year's end for tax purposes.
But regardless of when your property tax is due or whether it helps at all with tax filing, you still have to pay it.
And many places in recent years have started specifying how you can pay it.
Penny anti-payment rules: I'm not just talking about electronic transactions, although many state and local tax departments are following the Internal Revenue Service in encouraging e-payments.
I'm talking about the type of legal currency the tax collectors will accept.
Over the years, we've seen the stories of disgruntled property taxpayers who make a statement by carting cash to the local tax office. I blogged about a couple of those protests back in 2007 (pennies and dollar bills) and again in 2010 (a pennies-only payment attempt).
Almost a decade later, and it's still happening. Or at least some angry taxpayers are trying to make it happen, like a Jackson County, Missouri, woman.
Weighty property tax payment protest: Cynthia Lockett had planned to pay her annual property tax bill in nickels. A lot of nickels. Specifically, 1,419 rolls that weighed 625 pounds.
Lockett last month told WDAF, the Kansas City Fox affiliated, that she decided on the payment protest when she got no response from tax officials to her calls about appealing her assessment. That 2019 valuation, she told the television station, increased her land value by 135 percent and her property's overall value by 45 percent.
"It is going to be a little inconvenient to count those nickels," she said back in November. "I mean, they will be rolled. "I'm not trying to be a complete jerk, but it is just – they want to ignore us, ignore us, ignore us and I thought, 'You are not going to be able to ignore this blue buggy when I wheel it in.'"
Lockett's advance public warning, however, put an end to her payment protest before she even headed to the tax office.
Missouri tax officials say don't show them coins: She got a letter from county tax officials noting that, per state law, "it has been our policy for many years that the Jackson County Department of Collection to not accept large payments made using coins."
The reason is resources.
As Lockett herself noted, tallying the coins would be inconvenient. And that hassle for the tax office, according to the letter, "would result in substantial increases to wait times for other taxpayers. Accepting payments of this type would prevent us from providing adequate customer service to the many other taxpayers seeking assistance in making their payments."
So it looks like Lockett is stuck with converting those coins to paper currency or depositing in her bank account and writing a check.
And, as the letter noted in closing, she needs to do so soon.
"As a reminder, the same statute [that allows tax offices to refuse coin payments also] provides that non-acceptance does not relieve your obligation to pay any amount due by December 31st," writes the director of collection.
You also might find these items of interest:
- 4 tax law changes home buyers need to heed
- Making sure your property tax bill is correct
- Alert property assessors of disaster damage ASAP to avoid wrong real estate tax bill