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McHenry County residents swarm treasurer's office to pay property taxes early

AP file photo
AP file photo

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County residents are flocking to the treasurer's office to prepay next year’s property taxes ahead of proposed changes to the federal tax code that will cap the amount homeowners can deduct on their income tax returns.

As of Friday, 350 people had showed up to the office of McHenry County Treasurer Glenda Miller to pay their property taxes early. That's a huge jump for this time of year: On average, 45-50 residents pay their property taxes early, according to Miller.

“Everybody is panicking," Miller said.

Although the treasurer has given property owners the option of paying their taxes early for years, the mad dash to the treasurer's office is in response to a provision in a pending federal tax overhaul bill called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – a law that will cap homeowners' property tax deductions at $10,000 for 2018.

The first installment of 2017’s property tax bill is not due until June 2018, but prepaying now will allow people whose real estate taxes are greater than $10,000 to get the maximum, uncapped deduction, according to Miller. 

To prepay their taxes, residents must fill out an Advance Tax Agreement, available at www.mchenrytreasurer.org. Rresidents also can grab the document in person at Miller’s office, at the corner of Route 47 and Russel Court in Woodstock.

The form and accompanying payment much be submitted to Miller’s office no later than Dec. 29. For information, call the office at 815-334-4260.

Property taxes have been a hot button topics for thousands of McHenry County residents for years.

High property taxes in Illinois and McHenry County even have residents fleeing for other states. For residents paying close to $10,000 in taxes alone, many have decided that enough is enough. 

The bulk of property taxes in Illinois, around 62 percent, goes to public schools. How much individual residents pay varies from school district to school district. 

Voters and homeowners tired of high property taxes and the state’s worsening economic climate have been looking to cut anything from anywhere they can.

One effort to ease property taxes has been an attempt to consolidate townships, which hasn’t gotten much traction from the McHenry County Board. But State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, is now working on a bill that would give voters an opportunity to eliminate township government with a majority vote – a move that would shift the work done by townships to local municipalities and county government. His legislation would allow voters to trigger a referendum with a petition signed by 5 percent of voters within township boundaries.

McHenry County residents have until Dec. 29 to pay their property taxes before the end of the year to maximize their deduction. Homeowners even can pay two years’ worth of property taxes, Miller said.

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