As has been reported by multiple news sources, the time to pay your Feb. 1 and May 1 2018 property taxes is now. As of right now, and in Wellesley that means by the Dec. 29 deadline. The rationale behind this idea generally goes like this:
Given that next year’s property and state income taxes will be limited to a $10,000 deduction, if you currently itemize, and have in excess of $10,000 in combined local property tax and state income tax, you will want to pay your third and fourth quarter taxes.
That means you should pay your Feb. 1, 2018 and May 1, 2018 taxes now so that you can deduct those taxes in 2017. Do it now, the reasoning goes, because next year you won’t be able to deduct them.
There are three ways to pay your property taxes in Wellesley:
- You can pay your property taxes online.
- You can pay by check and drop the payment in the mail.
- If you have trust issues with snail mail, you can write out your check and run it over to the payment box in front of Town Hall, or go right in and go to the Treasure’s office downstairs and hand it to a live person. They also take cash. Do not put cash into the payment box.
Paying ahead will benefit those who pay local property taxes of $10,000 and over (which describes most homeowners in Wellesley) in addition to paying $10,000 in state income taxes for a combined $20,000. Under the new tax bill, next year you would be limited to deducting only $10,000. However, paying the second half of FY18 property taxes of $5,000 in 2017 will allow you to deduct them this year, and yield a savings equal to your tax rate.
Thus if you are at a 20% tax rate you would save 20%, or $1,000. The savings only get larger with higher tax bills and higher tax rates. You can do this even if your taxes are paid from a mortgage escrow. The reason you can do this is that the tax bill is technically due and owed now, even though we are allowed to pay in quarterly installments.
You can’t prepay and deduct payments that aren’t yet due on next year’s state income, or FY2019 property tax, so this is one-time event linked to paying off the balance of the FY2018 tax bill.
I emailed a few questions to Wellesley’s Treasurer, Marc Waldman, but got an auto response that he would be out of the office until Dec. 28, one day before all the emails and questions from residents and reporters will surely end with the deadline of Dec. 29.
So I stopped in to Wellesley Town Hall, just to feel the vibe in the air of the normally quiet tax payments office (first floor, end of the hall, take a right). I followed the crowd and walked into a scene from a movie. Phones were ringing. Town employees were multi-tasking. Property owners had their checkbooks out and were intently writing multiple loopy zeros and crisply handing over thousands of dollars, on the spot, having had very little advance heads up — and here’s the kicker — three days before Christmas. Welcome to Wellesley.
I didn’t go in for tax advice. It’s a good thing, because the incredibly efficient employee I spoke to told me, “We cannot give tax advice.”
She did confirm the payment options, however, then thanked a resident who had just handed over a payment, stamped her receipt, and wished her happy holidays.
As the old English nursery rhyme goes:
“Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That’s the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel.”