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Crowds Line Up To Prepay Property Taxes On Long Island

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Huge crowds amassed at town tax offices on Long Island Tuesday.

As CBS2's Jessica Moore reported, thousands of people showed up to prepay their 2018 property taxes to get around the cap imposed by the new federal tax plan.

Now the big question is, will the IRS honor the prepayments?

Phones have been ringing off the hook at the Hempstead Town Tax Receiver's office in Nassau County and lines have been stretching through the halfway around the building.

There was also chaos in the parking lot, with not enough spaces for everyone trying to prepay part or all of their 2018 property taxes.

Much of the rush was spurred by Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging residents to pay ahead to avoid the deductibility of their state and local taxes being capped at $10,000 come next year.

"What happened on Friday was the governor announced that he signed an executive order for allowing for the prepayment of general taxes, so we've been in all weekend long to implement a plan," said Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin.

Extra workers were called in from vacation, and they will be at it right through the weekend to beat the Dec. 31 deadline. But many online grumbled that right after the holidays, they were rushing to come up with many thousands of dollars weeks ahead of when taxes are due in February.

"I can do some of it now, but I really wish I didn't have to," said Karen Bula of West Hempstead. "It's too much of a hardship."

Worse yet, there is uncertainty because the IRS has yet to announce whether it will even accept the prepaying of taxes for 2018 on residents' 2017 federal returns.

"Why am I laying out all this money if the IRS is not going to honor the prepayments?" said Bill Zeirino of Woodmere. "What's the purpose of it?"

Even tax officials are not sure how the prepayments will be treated.

'I think the people that need to answer that would be the governor, who signed the executive order, and somebody from the IRS to give people clarity," Clavin said.

CBS2 reached out to the governor's office and the IRS, but there was still no definitive answer late Tuesday. But tax experts said they expect at least the school portion of property taxes to be accepted, because the bills were sent out to the frustrated and anxious residents in 2017.

Meanwhile, to ease lines at offices, Nassau County said it hopes to have the 2018 bills online by Wednesday morning, so they can be prepaid right at home on your computer.

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