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County sees a large influx of property tax pre-payments

“We did have a rush”

by Kristy Acuff & Toni Todd

Gunnison County received a small portion of more than $195 million in prepaid property taxes that poured in to county treasurers across Colorado last week. According to the Denver Post, the surge came in the final days of 2017 as taxpayers rushed to avoid a new limit on deductions included in the new federal tax bill.

“We did have a rush,” said Gunnison County treasurer Debbie Dunbar.

Last year, 54 accounts paid early in Gunnison County, for a total of $183,000. This year, Dunbar said, 565 property owners paid early, amounting to just over $2 million in prepaid property taxes.

Entities such as the RE1J School District, the Crested Butte Fire Protection District, the town of Crested Butte and the city of Gunnison will receive a funding boost in January that would otherwise have come later in the year. “It’s kind an early windfall for taxing authorities,” Dunbar said.

The new federal tax law taking effect in 2018 sets a $10,000 limit on the amount of property taxes that can be deducted from federal tax returns. Because of this new limit, for some property owners it made sense to pre-pay their taxes in order to be able to claim their deduction on their 2017 federal tax return.

Because the actual 2017 property tax bills have not yet been tabulated, the treasurer’s office collected what it estimates the taxes will be based on previous year’s taxes as well as current-year property value.

“If it turns out that our estimates were off the mark, those property owners who overpaid will be refunded and those who did not pay enough will receive a bill once the actual tax bills are completed,” says Dunbar.

For comparison’s sake, the $2 million in pre-payments represents less than 5 percent of the $37 million in property taxes collected by Gunnison County in 2016.

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