Cook County residents rush to prepay property taxes

CHICAGO -- Sunday was the final day to prepay property taxes before a deduction goes away under the new tax reform law signed by President Trump.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas personally greeted people at the treasurer's office on New Year’s Eve. She opened the office for special hours, throwing a sort of taxpaying party. The sweets were there to help on a day many taxpayers were feeling sour about the nation’s new tax reform law signed by Trump this month.

The law places a $10,000 cap on all local and state tax deductions.

"The nasty nature of the tax bill that has cut off the ability of Illinois taxpayers to deduct more than $10,000 on their tax returns – that’s what’s motivated this whole thing," said Chicago attorney Stephen Komie.

Komie paid a $7,000 installment on his Lincoln Park home.

"It’ll give me a 33 cent on the dollar deduction for the coming year," he said.

Across the country, it’s been the same story, with government offices seeing long lines of people hoping to pay early and save later.

Pappas says the number of people prepaying because of the new law is unprecedented in Cook County. Last year just 1,775 homeowners prepaid $14.4 million. This year, the numbers skyrocketed: 113,000 have prepaid a total of $689.5 million.

“This has like turned into something from outer space," Pappas said. "This is, like, unheard of."

Officials warn that to claim the deduction taxpayers need to pay an actual property tax bill and not simply an estimate. There’s still confusion, too, for many about the ultimate savings, but experts say it’s better to try to get the deduction while it’s still available.

Pappas says taxpayers can also pay online by way of a bank account or credit card. So far, about 70 percent of all prepayments have been made online.