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MT. LEBANON (KDKA) — It’s normal for people to wait until the last minute to pay a bill, but after President Trump recently changed the tax laws, some homeowners are now scrambling to pay their property taxes early.
John Hensler loves to call Mount Lebanon home. But this week, he found out his early tax payment on his beloved home got blocked.
Hensler: “They are penalizing me and the rest of the residents of Mount Lebanon that want to take advantage of the tax law that is in place now.”
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller: “How much money would it have saved you if you could do that?”
Hensler: “It’s enough for me to put my long underwear on today, go downtown.”
Hensler says it’ll likely cost him thousands because the new tax law now caps the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct on federal returns at $10,000.
If Hensler pays early though, he can deduct much more than $10,000 off his 2017 taxes before the law goes into effect.
Mount Lebanon says it’s a home rule municipality, meaning the treasurer can decide if early pay is allowed or not. The current Mount Lebanon treasurer says no, “[The] current statute prohibits the collection of these taxes before they have been duly assessed… so it is unfortunately not something that can be legally accommodated.”
But it’s not that way everywhere.
Ross Township’s tax collector Jerry O’Brien says he’s all about saving people money, and early pay will do just that, this year in particular.
“Thirty percent, 35 percent… you could save $1,000 or more, so take a shot. I am,” he says.
O’Brien says dozens of people already called him up and asked to pay early, which is something he’s happily accepting.
Meanwhile, back in Mount Lebanon, Hensler feels duped.
“Of course it makes me mad. It upsets me, but frankly, Mount Lebanon makes decisions like this and has in the past that you question. What are they thinking? said Hensler.
Mount Lebanon isn’t the only place where the treasurer can make this call. There’s many other home rule municipalities, like Bethel Park, Clairton and Whitehall Borough. KDKA’s Meghan Schiller called around to those places to see if they were accepting early payments, but every place was still closed for the holidays.