By Christine Sampson
As homeowners across Long Island scramble to pay property taxes early to avoid taking a hit as a result of the federal government’s new $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, Sag Harbor residents have been learning they won’t be able to pay village taxes early because of the way the village’s fiscal year is structured.
“Hundreds of people” have called the village office this week, village clerk Beth Kamper said Thursday, ever since New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing municipalities with fiscal years beginning on January 1 to issue 2018 tax warrants earlier than usual so that residents may prepay their taxes and deduct them on their 2017 tax returns.
But because Sag Harbor’s fiscal year begins June 1, not January 1, and approximate assessed values will not be available until sometime in February, Ms. Kamper said the village is unable to issue 2018-2019 tax warrants early.
“We have no idea what someone’s taxes are going to be for the 2018-19 fiscal year. We haven’t even started that process,” she said.
Village treasurer Eileen Touhy said all 2017-2018 village taxes must be paid by December 31, 2017, in order for them to be deducted on a 2017 tax return. She estimated the village has collected about 85 to 90 percent of the taxes levied on its residents this year so far, meaning there are some outstanding tax bills to be paid.
Ms. Touhy pointed out that East Hampton and Southampton town residents, however, can take advantage of Governor Cuomo’s executive order for their town taxes. County taxes are also collected through the towns’ tax bills, so residents can pay Suffolk taxes this way as well.
“By law [the village] cannot collect taxes without a warrant first being issued,” she said, “which is done after the budget is approved and adopted by the board of trustees.” She said its first budget meeting will be in February.
Local accountant Gregory Ferraris, a former mayor of Sag Harbor, said he wasn’t surprised to hear hundreds of people had called village hall this week.
Asked whether he would advise people to pay their taxes early, Mr. Ferraris said, “Put it this way. It can’t hurt people to pay their town taxes now. Whether it will provide a benefit will depend on the taxpayers’ unique circumstances.”