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Scarsdale School and County Taxes Cannot be Prepaid for 2018 Afterall

shsberke1Despite the best efforts of Scarsdale School and Village officials, it does not appear that Scarsdale taxpayers will be able to prepay their county and school taxes for 2018. Though the Village did collect 2018 tax payments from some residents early this week, we have now learned that the school and county portions cannot be prepaid. The Scarsdale Village Board will meet in executive session on Thursday morning December 28 to determine whether or not the Village can issue their warrant for taxes. If so, residents will have a few days to pre-pay the 2018 Village portion of their taxes which represents about 18% of the property tax bill.

However it remains to be seen whether or not the IRS will allow deductions of these prepayments from resident's 2018 tax returns.

Village Hall is staffed to handle the payments. Scarsdale Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure and two Village employees are on hand to accepts checks and explain the changing scenario to those who come by. Anyone who paid their total 2018 taxes with one check earlier this week, can go back, retrieve that check and write a smaller check for the Village portion of their tax bill.

Governor Cuomo's order to allow prepayment sent municipal officials into a blitz of activity in a normally quiet vacation week between Christmas and New Years. Officials on all levels struggled to find out if they could legally issue early tax warrants to accept pre-payments. It now appears that Governor Cuomo's actions, while politically expedient, may have caused lots of unnecessary work.

Here are the latest press releases from the Scarsdale Schools, The Village of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Forum.

(From the Scarsdale School District – 12/27/17)

Greetings from the Scarsdale School District:

We recognize that recent correspondence from the Village of Scarsdale suggests the Village may accept prepayment of 2018-2019 school taxes, but that the School District must issue a warrant to allow such prepayment. We have looked into this matter carefully, including consulting with our attorneys, and have determined that the District cannot issue a warrant at this time.

Governor Cuomo's Executive Order does not specifically authorize the pre-payment of such school taxes, nor suspend the operation of State Law governing the school budgetary process. Pursuant to the New York State Education Law, school districts must develop and adopt a school budget, which then is submitted to the voters of the district for approval. Only then can the tax warrant be finalized or a tax levy set. The Executive Order did not modify or suspend any of these Education Law requirements for the adoption of the 2018-2019 school budget.

To be clear, our best information is that we are not in a position to issue a warrant at this time and thus prepayment of school taxes is not an available option

Happy New Year to each of you and your families.

Sincerely,

William J. Natbony
President
Scarsdale Board of Education

Dr. Thomas Hagerman
Superintendent of Schools

(From Scarsdale Village Hall – 12/27/17)

A Special Meeting of the Village of Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees is scheduled for Thursday, December 28, 2017, at 9:30 AM. The meeting will be held in the Trustees Room located on the 2nd Floor in Village Hall. Agenda 1. Prepayment of Village Property Taxes (It is anticipated that a motion will be offered to move into Executive Session to seek opinion of Counsel) 2. Resolution re: Partial Levy and Warrant for 2018/19 Village Taxes

(From the Scarsdale Forum – 12/27-17) Please note that this was written before the School District sent out the note above announcing that they could not issue a warrant for school taxes.

No Prepayment of Westchester County 2018 Property Taxes
This is an update of the press release sent last week with respect to the prepayment of 2018 property taxes. Based upon recent developments, the present options are:

1. The Village of Scarsdale is accepting prepayment of 2018 Village and School property taxes as follows:

Those wishing to make a prepayment should prepare two checks using the amounts paid for Village and School taxes in 2017: one for Village taxes and one for School taxes. Both checks to made payable to the Village of Scarsdale.

However, if the necessary tax warrant cannot be prepared and issued by the Scarsdale School District before the end of 2017, prepayments of School taxes will be returned.

Payments may be made in person at Village Hall from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through December 29, 2017. The Drop Box at Village Hall will be closed at the end of business December 29, 2017. Payments may also be mailed and will be accepted with a United States postmark, Federal Express or UPS shipment dated on or before December 31, 2017. Postage meter marks are not acceptable.

At this date, prepayments cannot be made using the Village's on-line payment system.

Note: Neither the Village nor the Scarsdale Forum make any representation regarding the deductibility of prepaid taxes which will ultimately be decided by the United States Treasury. Property owners are urged to consult their own tax advisors on such matter.

2. The Village will not be accepting prepayment of Westchester County Taxes:
This updated information is prompted by yesterday's announcement by the County that due to the variety of legal and administrative requirements the County must meet to issue a tax warrant, it is not able to do so prior to the end of 2017. A lohud news report of this development can be accessed here.

The Village has noted that the prepayment of some or all or none of 2018 property taxes is optional. If property owners avail themselves of this option, the necessary adjustments to the payment amounts will be made during the usual property tax billing cycles in 2018.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Village Treasurer's Office at 914.722.1170. The Village Hall tax office will close for the year at 5:00 pm on December 29, 2017.

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Comments   

#12 Scarsdale Taxpayer 2017-12-28 22:41
The Monday Morning quarterbacking here is astounding. This is an unprecedented situation at an inopportune time being during the holidays. Even the IRS has issued cage guidance as to the legality of prepaying taxes. It is essentially tax avoidance and anyone who decides to prepay runs the risk that the IRS disallows it altogether. Give the people who run our town and schools a break for doing the best they can in a difficult situation.

Seems like whenever something doesn’t go there way, people want to always point fingers and call people incompetent. It’s just not right.
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#11 Huh? 2017-12-28 16:36
I don’t think you understand the definition of “sarcasm” but that’s beside the point. I’m not saying Scarsdale was doing the “right thing” by working to allow prepayment, my point is that they announced they were allowing it, then people used that official info to exercise that option. At that point the town basically admitted they screwed up, thus they (and yes, “we”) should be responsible for the costs people incurred while assuming the official Info was accurate. Simple. Personally I think Cuomo’s order was “odd” (ie it seemed aimed at creating a mechanism for tax evasion, which is what lawyers with a “tax practice” do for a living!) Just FYI I didn’t incur meaningful costs and don’t expect the Town to reimburse me for anything (despite the fact I wasted about 3-4 hours getting these payments lined up). I just believe in accountability and this one was botched big time.



Quoting Sarcasm Noted:
Huh? - I think you missed the sarcasm in Taxpayer's note. I totally agree with Taxpayer. People seem pissed off about a county or school district not helping them avoid federal taxes. Fine. Now they want the county to pay for their inconvenience? Hell no. The county runs on the very tax money that I work hard to pay, and the last thing I want to see is for my money to be spent on someone else's wire fees, which were incurred to avoid federal taxes in the first place! Ha
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#10 Sarcasm Noted 2017-12-28 12:37
Huh? - I think you missed the sarcasm in Taxpayer's note. I totally agree with Taxpayer. People seem pissed off about a county or school district not helping them avoid federal taxes. Fine. Now they want the county to pay for their inconvenience? Hell no. The county runs on the very tax money that I work hard to pay, and the last thing I want to see is for my money to be spent on someone else's wire fees, which were incurred to avoid federal taxes in the first place! Ha
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#9 Huh? 2017-12-28 08:49
Taxpayer your response is odd. I suspect no one in Scarsdale is paid extra for working the week between Christmas and New Years. I suspect most also get penalized in some form for mistakes at work. We have two ways of correcting for mistakes — economic and criminal penalties. Reimbursing those who incurred costs due to an unequivocal policy statement by the town isn’t unreasonable. And wrt Me vs We, I think most of us pay enough taxes that make it clear that we support others. Also don’t understand why a 10% convenience fee would make sense — what economic purpose would that serve and what is your rationale? A convenience fee paid just because employees are doing their jobs?
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#8 Taxpayer 2017-12-28 08:21
I am reading statements that Scarsdale Village (meaning I and all other taxpayer residents) should make whole people who incurred costs (fees, capital gains, ...). Is this a joke? How about paying back capital losses incurred because of the urgent need to sell one’s investments, or maybe federal taxes on capital gains? Should we reimburse, your postage and time spent trying to save yourself some money? How about a little holiday bonus to round up the amount?
I can only imagine the face of those people if the Village would have subtracted a 10% convenience fee for facilitating this prepayment in the middle of the holiday period... Another example of ME versus we.
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#7 Sky Masterson 2017-12-27 21:20
The statement from the Village mare a day or two ago was unequivocal - county, school and village taxes may be paid early. This was not “suggested” (Hagerman’s characterizatio n). At the very least the town should make taxpayers who incurred costs (wire fees, capital gains, etc) whole. I recognize the staff has been scrambling but the conflicting statements make it seem as if we’ve amateurs at work. Working hard isn’t always associated with being effective. I’m just hoping they sort and we can prepay all three categories. If not there’s some explaining to be done.
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#6 Thwarted Taxpayer 2017-12-27 19:08
As I understand it, the reversal came not from the Village but from Superintendent Hagerman and the BoE; they issued their conclusion mid-afternoon today that for school taxes it couldn’t be done. If you search around, school districts all around the area are issuing similar statements. Still I’m disappointed - couldn’t they accept and hold in case a workaround came through at the 11th hour? All the smart experts in town, no one had a plan worth trying?? Rockland put county taxes through - you think Astorino couldn’t have done it if he’d wanted??

And anyway, all efforts may be in vain if Wash Post update on IRS guidelines is true or Village tax payments may not work out either. But at least the Village worked hard to handle the part they could.
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#5 Hold the checks for now at least 2017-12-27 18:43
i think this is going to be very embarrassing when it is later shown how other districts were able to accept school taxes.

The village should take and hold the school tax checks pending a final resolution.
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#4 Thanks a lot Scarsdale 2017-12-27 17:51
The Village either is or is not able to accept the taxes - I'm fine with either outcome providing that Village Hall has done everything it can to benefit it's residents.

What I'm not fine with is advising residents yesterday that prepayments will be accepted, and then reversing that decision today.

As a result of yesterday's announcement, I liquidated assets in anticipation of prepaying my taxes. Now, not only am I not able to make the tax payment, but I've incurred fees and a capital gains tax liability that wouldn't have existed had the Village not prematurely advised tax payers that prepayments would be accepted.
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#3 David Carey 2017-12-27 17:30
There’s no question that the change in the federal tax law will negatively impact our community. But the village is doing a very poor job of handling the situation. First, knowing that many in the area are on vacation this week, and given the confusing directions that are coming out of village hall, they should be open for payments until 5 PM on Sunday, December 31. To close for the year on Friday, December 29, in the face of this extraordinary change, is simply irresponsible. Second, other Westchester towns, including Bronxville, are accepting prepayment of school taxes. I wonder if the local officials realize the gravity of the situation, the coming pressure for significant reduction in local spending, and any attempt to help mitigate this problem — at least for one year for those who pre-pay — would be beneficial. It appears that the village did NO pre-planning for the outcome of the tax reform bill.
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